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Ed Rushca ‘On the Road’ has just finished at Gagosian Gallery. I don’t know what it is with the Beat Generation, but we can’t get enough of it here at slamxhype, and what better way to remember the great Jack Kerouac novel, but to combine with Ed Ruscha’s work. Gagosian published the leather-bound book comprising of 228 pages, signed and numbered by the artist as an edition of 350 and presented in a slip-case. And displayed the pages at their Madison Avenue location.

The original novel was published in 1957 and it’s about a group of crazy young people who just travel back and forth across the United States. Sometimes they hitch-hike and sometimes they drive cars. They steal cars and just want to be on the road the whole time. I’ve always liked that notion. -Ed Ruscha

In 1951, Jack Kerouac wrote On the Road on his typewriter as a continuous 120 foot-long scroll, feverishly recording in twenty days his experiences during road trips in the United States and Mexico, which he began with Neil Cassady in the late 1940s. On the Road was finally published in 1957, and Kerouac was immediately acknowledged as the voice of the Beat Generation, a new group of writers, including Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs, who became known for their embracing of radical free-verse style.

Ed Ruscha’s singular art has recorded the shifting emblems of American life in the form of Hollywood logos, stylized gas stations, and archetypal landscapes. His wry choice of words and indirect phrases mines the perpetual interplay between language as a physical thing and language as a transparent medium. During the sixties, he created a series of cheaply printed photographic books as deadpan meditations on the romantic vision of the road epitomized by the Beats. His typologies of the urban environment of Los Angeles included Twenty-six Gasoline Stations (1963) and Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966). In Royal Road Test (1967), he brought the word and the road together in a conceptual prank by documenting himself dropping a vintage typewriter from a speeding Buick.

Over the last couple of years, Ruscha has turned his attention to On the Road, resulting in his own version of Kerouac’s Beat bible. Kerouac’s entire text appears accompanied by black and white photographic illustrations that Ruscha has either taken himself, commissioned from other photographers, or selected from found images to refer closely to the details and impressions that the author describes, from car parts to jazz instruments, from sandwich stacks to tire burns on a desert road.

On the Road is published by Gagosian Gallery and Steidl. The leather-bound book comprises 228 pages, signed and numbered by the artist in an edition of 350 and presented in a slip-case.

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