At 78 years old, Ed Ruscha has perfected his artistic skills

Ed Ruscha - Fifty Years Of Painting, installation view, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden, photo Åsa Lundén
Ed RuschaFifty Years Of Painting exhibition, installation view, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden
Photo: Åsa Lundén

At 78 years old, Ed Ruscha has perfected his artistic skills to the extent that he can express the noises of everyday life on a canvas. When he began his art in 1961, no one would have thought that the works that had words written over them would translate into such epic levels of fame. You too have probably come across his works and never stopped for a moment to think about the creativity that goes into making them. Some of these word paintings have published in not one, not two or three volumes but a record 20 and counting.

His journey into this little-known art space began in 1964 when Ed Ruscha started experimenting with words and phrases that were often satirical but perfectly depicted life as it was in LA. Does that mean he never used photoshop? Actually, he probably never knew there would be such a thing in future to compete with what he had invested time and creativity into. Like many artists, it was crucial for Ed Ruscha to experiment with various materials before he found one that matched the message he was trying to convey. From vinyl, gunpowder, fruit juices, blood, grass stains and even raw eggs, he took the time to analyze the effect that each material not only had on the eyes but on the message. Through a combination of context and creativity, Ruscha was able to develop new materials that could only be found in his works.

By 1962, just a year after he had discovered his passion for words and found a way to turn that into artworks, Ed Ruscha began using single words. Annie (1962) for instance, was an art piece that incorporates five colors. The artist uses texture on the two vast color blocks to portray depth and structure. The art piece, in general, is soothing and more so because the letters of the main word seem to be floating.

Like many other artists that had gone before him, Ruscha’s training was basically aimed at making money. By delving into an arena where he was the most outstanding player, he managed to compound his unique style by paying attention to his surroundings. When asked about where he got his inspiration from, Ruscha opens up about his love for the spoken word and new uncommon words hidden in the dictionary.

Ed Ruscha - installation view of Great American West exhibition, de Young Museum, San Francisco, 2016, photo Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle
Ed Ruscha – installation view of Great American West exhibition, de Young Museum, San Francisco, 2016
Photo: Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle

Ed Ruscha - Annie, 1962
Ed RuschaAnnie, 1962, oil and pencil on canvas, 181.6 × 170.2 cm

Ed Ruscha - Bliss Bucket, 2010, Lithograph in colors, on wove paper, 61 x 61 cm
Ed RuschaBliss Bucket, 2010, Lithograph in colors, on wove paper, 61 x 61 cm

Ed Ruscha - Daily Planet, 2003, Acrylic paint on canvas, 152,9 x 152,9 cm
Ed RuschaDaily Planet, 2003, Acrylic paint on canvas, 152,9 x 152,9 cm

Ed Ruscha - I CAN’T NOT DO THAT, 1998, acrylic on canvas, 77 1:2 x 77 1:2 in
Ed RuschaI CAN’T NOT DO THAT, 1998, acrylic on canvas, 77 1/2 x 77 1/2 in

Ed Ruscha - Pay Nothing Until April, 2003, Acrylic paint on canvas, 152,7 x 152,5 cm
Ed RuschaPay Nothing Until April, 2003, acrylic on canvas, 152,7 x 152,5 cm

Ed Ruscha - Porch Crop, 2001, acrylic on canvas, 162.6 x 182.9 cm, 64 x 72 in.
Ed RuschaPorch Crop, 2001, acrylic on canvas, 162.6 x 182.9 cm, 64 x 72 in.

Ed Ruscha - HONEY…I TWISTED THROUGH MORE DAMN TRAFFIC TO GET HERE, 1984, oil on canvas, 72 x 72 in
Ed RuschaHONEY…I TWISTED THROUGH MORE DAMN TRAFFIC TO GET HERE, 1984, oil on canvas, 72 x 72 in

Ed Ruscha - MAD SCIENTIST, 1975, Pastel and graphite on paper, 57,8 x 72,4 cm
Ed RuschaMAD SCIENTIST, 1975, Pastel and graphite on paper, 57,8 x 72,4 cm

Ed Ruscha - ARTISTS WHO MAKE “PIECES”, 1976, Pastel on paper, 57,8 x 72,6 cm
Ed RuschaARTISTS WHO MAKE “PIECES”, 1976, Pastel on paper, 57,8 x 72,6 cm

Ed Ruscha - PRETTY EYES, ELECTRIC BILLS, 1976, Pastel and graphite on paper, 57,4 x 72,1 cm
Ed RuschaPRETTY EYES, ELECTRIC BILLS, 1976, Pastel and graphite on paper, 57,4 x 72,1 cm

Ed Ruscha - A Particular Kind of Heaven, 1983, oil on canvas, 90 x 136.5 in
Ed RuschaA Particular Kind of Heaven, 1983, oil on canvas, 90 x 136.5 in

Ed Ruscha - God Knows Where, 2014. Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48 (121.9 x 121.9 cm)
Ed RuschaGod Knows Where, 2014. Acrylic on canvas, 121.9 x 121.9 cm, 48 x 48 in

Ed Ruscha - Busted Glass, 2014, dry pigment and acrylic on paper, 15 x 22.375 inches
Ed RuschaBusted Glass, 2014, dry pigment and acrylic on paper, 15 x 22.375 inches

Ed Ruscha - Sex at Noon Taxes, 2002, acrylic on canvas, 162.6 x 193 cm, 64 x 76 in.
Ed RuschaSex at Noon Taxes, 2002, acrylic on canvas, 162.6 x 193 cm, 64 x 76 in.

Ed Ruscha - The Music from the Balconies, 1984, Oil paint on canvas, 251,5 x 205,7 cm
Ed RuschaThe Music from the Balconies, 1984, Oil paint on canvas, 251,5 x 205,7 cm

Ed Ruscha - That was Then This Is Now, 2014, Lithograph on Paper, 87.6 × 116.8 cm
Ed RuschaThat was Then This Is Now, 2014, Lithograph on Paper, 87.6 × 116.8 cm

's No Job Too Small, 1975, lithograph on paper, 30 x 22 in
Ed RuschaThere’s No Job Too Small, 1975, Lithograph on Paper, 30 x 22 in

Ed Ruscha - Rodeo, 1969, color lithograph, 17 x 24 inches
Ed RuschaRodeo, 1969, color lithograph, 17 x 24 inches

Ed Ruscha - Production, 1972, oil on canvas, 50.8 x 61 cm, 20 x 24 in.
Ed RuschaProduction, 1972, oil on canvas, 50.8 x 61 cm, 20 x 24 in.

Ed Ruscha - GOODS AND SERVICES, 2012-2014, acrylic on canvas, 66 x 122 cm.
Ed RuschaGOODS AND SERVICES, 2012-2014, acrylic on canvas, 66 x 122 cm.

Ed Ruscha - Adios, 1969, color lithograph, 9.25 x 22 inches
Ed RuschaAdios, 1969, color lithograph, 9.25 x 22 inches

Edward Ruscha - OOO, 1970, two-color lithograph, 51.1 x 70.5 cm
Ed RuschaOOO, 1970, two-color lithograph, 51.1 x 70.5 cm

Ed Ruscha - The End, 1991, lithograph, 26.1875 x 36.8125 in
Ed RuschaThe End, 1991, lithograph, 26.1875 x 36.8125 in

Ed Ruscha - The Absolute End, 1982, Dry pigment on paper, 23 x 29 inches
Ed RuschaThe Absolute End, 1982, Dry pigment on paper, 23 x 29 inches

 

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