Ed Ruscha

Throwing graphic design in 1950s, Ed Ruscha began to paint and the result was not similar to the works of the artists of his time. Ruscha realized what he really wants to do when he saw Jasper Johnes’ picture «Target with Four Faces», which was so different from paintings of abstract expressionism. Starting with images capacious words and expressions like «Oof» on a colored background, he perfected selected manner later.


Ruscha tried different paints — he used blood, wine, coffee and juice. Also he added various everyday objects, experimenting with fonts and materials, as well as withe backgrounds: for example, one of his most famous series — a painting with white words and phrases on a background of photorealistic images of mountains. Hollywood sign in Ruscha’s work is inverted as seen from behind.




Ruscha’s work not only influenced many conceptual artists who began to use the word in their works, but also graphic designers. He experimented a lot with fonts and use not only the existing ones, for instance, Frankfurter for a picture, but also he invented his own. For example, he came up with a complex font for a series of drawings that were made in the late 1960s where instead of a pencil Ruscha used gunpowder. The effect is interesting because graphite and the gunpowder were still portrayed words, but these words looked 3-dimensional as they were made up of «tapes».

Ed Ruscha’s paintings influenced a vast amount of conceptual artists. The most remarkable case was in 1969 when Bruce Nauman created a book «Burning Small Fires», he photographed the burning Ed Ruscha’s book «Various small Fires and Milk». Another well-known American artist Chris Wool do the similar things as Ruscha making ironic inscription on huge paintings.

Polina Brzhezinskaya

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