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Colorfast?

Ed Ruscha (USA , b.1937)

“Colorfast?”

1975

signed and dated "Edward Ruscha 1975" (on the reverse)

onion stalks, onion juice and pencil on paper

8 x 29-1/8 inches (20 x 74 cm)

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Ed Ruscha (USA , b.1937)

Ed Ruscha’s photography, drawing, painting, and artist books record the shifting emblems of American life in the last half century. His deadpan representations of Hollywood logos, stylized gas stations, and archetypal landscapes distil the imagery of popular culture into a language of cinematic and typographical codes that are as accessible as they are profound. Ruscha’s wry choice of words and phrases, which feature heavily in his work, draw upon the moments of incidental ambiguity implicit in the interplay between the linguistic signifier and the concept signified. Although his images are undeniably rooted in the vernacular of a closely observed American reality, his elegantly laconic art speaks to more complex and widespread issues regarding the appearance, feel, and function of the world and our tenuous and transient place within it.

Ed Ruscha was born in 1937 in Omaha, Nebraska. He graduated from the Chouinard Art Institute (now CalArts), Los Angeles, in 1960. Recent solo museum exhibitions include “Cotton Puffs, Q–Tips®, Smoke and Mirrors: The Drawings of Ed Ruscha,” Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2004, traveled to Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., through 2005); MAXXI, Rome (2004); “Ed Ruscha: Photographer,” Jeu de Paume, Paris (2006, traveled to Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland; and Museum Ludwig, Cologne, through 2006); “Fifty Years of Painting,” Hayward Gallery, London (2009, traveled to Haus der Kunst, Munich; and Moderna Museet, Stockholm, through 2010); “Road Tested,” Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas (2011); “On the Road,” Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2011, traveled to Denver Art Museum, Colorado; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami, through 2012); “Reading Ed Ruscha,” Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2012); “Artist Rooms on Tour: Ed Ruscha,” Tate Modern, London (2009, traveled to Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, Scotland; Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, England; and Hatton Gallery, Newcastle University, England, among other venues, through 2013); “Standard,” Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California (2012, traveled to Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Massachusetts, through 2013); “Ed Ruscha—Los Angeles Apartments,” Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland (2013); “In Focus: Ed Ruscha,” J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (2013); “Mixmaster,” Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli, Italy (2015–16); and “Ed Ruscha and the Great American West,” De Young Museum, San Francisco (2016). In 2012, Ruscha curated “The Ancients Stole All Our Great Ideas,” at Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. Ruscha represented the United States in the 51st Biennale di Venezia in 2005, and was featured in the 2015 Biennale de Lyon's exhibition, “La Vie Moderne.”

Info

Ed Ruscha

Provenance:

Leo Castelli Gallery, New York Private collection, Pennsylvania Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York

Private collection, Sweden (acquired from the above, 2006)

Exhibited:

Leverkusen, Städtisches Museum, USA: Zeichnungen, 3, May - June 1975.

New York, Whitney Museum of Art (Downtown Branch), Words: A Look at the Use of

Language in Art 1967-1977, March - April 1977.

Philadelphia, Route 66 Gallery, Edward Ruscha: Drawings and Prints, January - March

1983.

Literature:

Turvey and H. Cooper, Edward Ruscha, Catalogue Raisonne of the Works on Paper, Volume 1: 1956-1976, 2014, no. D1975.05 (illustrated in color).

Beginning in 1969, and simultaneously with his decision to take a break from traditional painting, Ruscha started experimenting with the staining effects of organic materials. He produced a boxed set of 75 stains, including apple juice, molasses, cabbage, blood, Pepto-bismol and bleach, that signaled a departure for a time from the use of conventional materials in both his drawings and paintings and the creation over several years of perhaps his most conceptual and Duchampian body of work. It proved a conscious and decisive move away from the pictorial representation of liquids and substances in his word paintings to the actual incorporation of those matierials into his art. Ruscha explained:

Stains is a boxed set of single sheets of paper done in 1969 and it’s like a little treasure chest of overlooked things, disregarded or something .... Stains have always been scorned I guess and it evolved out of my concepts of painting. I’ve always painted with a skin on a support, like paint on a canvas, and finally I got sick of doing it. And staining something, letting a wet material sink down in to the fabric of the support -- in this case paper -- was the effort here and was my interest. The idea of using something that stains rather than a paint that sits on the surface of a canvas was a discovery for myself at the time. So there’s everything from wine stains, coffee stains, LA tap water that’s almost invisible ... lot’s of ‘em, lots of stains. I made a little laundry list of things that I think I wanted to see at that time. One was even sulfuric acid, which eats a hole in the paper. And everything that I selected seemed to be right at the time. -- Ed Ruscha, 2000

Clearly intrigued by the effective combination of concept, subject and material, Ruscha produced six very different versions of Colorfast? : the present example with onion, another with the more traditional gunpowder (private collection), a third using beet juice (coll. The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), and three with pastel (private collections). It is notable as well, conceptually, as one of his few works which appears to ask a question.

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