Restlessly inventive, Ruscha has remained a step ahead and apart from the art trends and movements of his time. Pop Art, Conceptual Art, Surrealism, Photo-Realism, and today's renewed focus on painting resonate in a body of work that ultimately defies categorization. Born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1937, Ruscha lived in Oklahoma City until he moved permanently to Los Angeles in 1956, where he studied at the Chouinard Art Institute until 1960. Side jobs in typography and layout, a revelatory trip to Europe, and influential encounters with Jasper Johns' art contributed to an artistic vision attuned to the prosaic look and language of popular culture. By the early 1960s Ruscha was well known for his paintings, collages and printmaking, and for his association with the Ferus Gallery group, which also included artists Robert Irwin, Edward Moses, Ken Price and Edward Kienholz. He later achieved recognition for his paintings incorporating words and phrases and for his many photographic books. This monograph is organized in thematic chapters that follow the work roughly chronologically concluding with his "mirror mountains" works (shown at the Gagosian Gallery in NY in spring 2002).
This organization brings to light the surprising diversity of Ruscha's work, while at the same time showing the recurrence of themes and styles throughout his career. Rather than focusing on a long, daunting scholarly essay illustrated by the artist's painting, this book is first and foremost about the work. Rather than using the paintings to illustrate his text, Richard Marshall writes his text to illustrate the paintings. This is obvious in the design of the book, which allows the work to speak for itself in plate sections.
Publisher: Phaidon Press Ltd