In Focus: Ed Ruscha
Ed Ruscha's art is characterized by graphic simplicity, playful humor, and a keen interest in the vernacular as it applies to both language and architecture. This exhibition explores his photography, including well-known photo-based book projects.
Ruscha moved to Los Angeles in 1956 to study design at Chouinard Art Institute. Throughout a career of more than fifty years, he has produced paintings, photographs, prints, drawings, and films that often reflect on the city's vernacular architecture, urban landscape, and car culture. Photography has always been central to his artistic practice, most notably for the slender, pocket-sized volumes that he began publishing in 1963 and his extensive documentation of Los Angeles streets, beginning with Sunset Boulevard in 1965. Several of the photographs that appeared in these publications became source material for works of art that he would realize in other media, either at the same time or years later—for example, the photograph of Standard Station, Amarillo, Texas, published in Twentysix Gasoline Stations and later abstracted in a well-known painting now in the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College.
The works in this show are drawn from recent acquisitions of vintage prints by the Getty Museum and of Ruscha's Streets of Los Angeles Archive by the Getty Research Institute.
Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1963)
For the first of his photo books, Ruscha photographed gas stations along Route 66 during road trips between Los Angeles and his hometown of Oklahoma City. In addition to images that appeared in Twentysix Gasoline Stations, this selection includes variant prints, a contact sheet, and unpublished images, providing insight into the process by which Ruscha identified his subjects, employed a documentary style to record them, and made subsequent editing decisions.
Some Los Angeles Apartments (1965)
Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966)
Pacific Coast Highway (1974)
Ruscha's book projects of the sixties and seventies have come to be recognized as central to photography's development, encouraging both conceptual approaches and interest in analyzing the built landscape. Less well known is his continuing commitment to capturing the various thoroughfares of his adopted home city. Ruscha has used the same automobile-based system to photograph such major boulevards as Wilshire, Hollywood, and Sepulveda, and, more recently, "suites" of smaller roads in Chinatown, Silver Lake, and other neighborhoods. At present, the Streets of Los Angeles project numbers more than forty separate shoots and well over a million exposures.
Co-organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Getty Research Institute, In Focus: Ed Ruscha is part of the initiative Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A., which celebrates Southern California's lasting impact on modern architecture through exhibitions and programs organized by seventeen area cultural institutions from April through July 2013. Visit the Pacific Standard Time Presents website for more exhibitions and events happening around the L.A. area.