Honor Fraser Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of prints, ephemera and films, spanning 1963 through 2017 by Ed Ruscha.
Ed Ruscha moved to Los Angeles to study at Chouinard Art Institute (now California Institute of the Arts) in 1956, graduating in 1960. Stemming from an interest in landscape, signage, literature, and poetry, Ruscha has explored the relationship between image and language for nearly six decades. His work has been associated with movements spanning Pop, Surrealism, and Conceptual Art. Printmaking has been integral to Ruscha’s work alongside his painting and drawing practice. This exhibition brings together a collection of prints, ephemera, and films spanning the artist’s rich career.
While in art school, Ruscha briefly worked for a book printer, which had a lasting influence on the artist who began self-publishing in 1963. In addition to a desire to create reproducible work, he was struck by the ontological nature of words and their ability to transcend scale. Using text as image, Ruscha conceptually linked meaning with attribute. For example, Carp (1969) is depicted in a liquid-like type, pointing to the subject’s aqueous habitat. Punctuating his ongoing interest in scale, reproduction, and banality, Ruscha began incorporating small objects like olives and insects on a 1:1 scale into his work as in Cheese Mold Standard with Olive (1969). Both of the aforementioned prints were created during a two-month residency at the now-famous Tamarind Lithography Workshop where Ruscha was encouraged to experiment and produce prolifically with master printers.
The portfolio Stains (1969), often described as a loose-leaf artist book, straddles the border between drawing and printmaking. Interested in the effect of various substances such as tap water, wine, leather dye, apple juice, and grass on paper, Ruscha applied a single material to each page of this work. All seventy-five pages act as documents of Ruscha’s environment and labor, each portfolio even has the artist’s own blood on the back cover. The following year, Ruscha developed inks out of substances he considered to be quintessentially English such as beans, barley, and flowers during his residency at Alecto Studios in London. The resulting print series News, Mews, Pews, Brews, Stews & Dues (1970) functions as an index of the artist’s ongoing experimentation as well as a poem about England.
Foodstuffs continued to appear in Ruscha’s work as a means to explore localism in Premium (1971), a short film that follows a man (played by Larry Bell) as he shops and prepares a dinner for a date (played by Léon Bing). A quintessentially Angeleno salad is the maincourse of the film, which also features imagery of cars and gas stations. A car is also at the center of Miracle (1975), in which the main character (played by Jim Ganzer) misses his date (played by Michelle Phillips) because he was immersed in repairing a car. Though Ruscha has argued that his two film works stand apart from his other practices, his interest in signifiers and codes remain present.
In 1990, Ruscha and Ed Hamilton founded Hamilton Press, the culmination of a partnership that began at Tamarind. Though Ruscha had published books independently for decades and had started his own press in his studio, the establishment of Hamilton Press allowed the artist to encourage others to train and explore the possibilities of printmaking. This exhibition aims to illustrate how these interests in collaboration, materiality, text, typography, and scale have remained throughout Ruscha’s ongoing practice.
Special thanks to James Corcoran Gallery, Tracy Lew, Linda Brown, Arcana Books, Gagosian Gallery, Hamilton Press, Crown Point Press, Lapis Press, Chelsea Hadley and Justin Reinhardt, and Gemini G.E.L.
Ed Ruscha (b. Omaha, NE, 1937) received a BFA from Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles (now California Institute of the Arts) in 1960. He has had numerous one-person exhibitions since first showing at Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles in 1963. Major monographic and retrospectives exhibitions were organized by the Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, NE (2018); the De Young Museum, San Francisco (2016); the Modern Art Museum of Forth Worth, TX (2010); the Hayward Gallery, London (2009, tour); Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City (2006); the American Pavilion, Venice, Italy (2005); the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, Scotland (2004); the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2004, tour); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia (2004, tour); Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid (2002); the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, England (2002); the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC (2000); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1999, tour); the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (1998); the Tokyo Museum of Contemporary Art (1989); Centre George Pompidou, Paris (1989, tour); the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston (1987); the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1982, tour); the Institute of Contemporary Art, London (1976); the Stedjelik Museum, Amsterdam (1976); and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (1971).
Ruscha’s work can be found in many public collections including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Musée National d’Art Moderne, France; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Galleries of Scotland; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Tate, England; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York