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Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha

Born: 16th December 1937

Place of Birth: Omaha, Nebraska.

Ed Ruscha (Edward Ruscha) is an American Artist based in Los Angeles associated with the American Pop Art movement. Ruscha has worked with the media of painting, printmaking, drawing, photography and film, and currently shows with Gagosian Gallery.

Born into a Roman Catholic family with younger sister Shelby, and younger brother Paul. His Father was an auditor for Hartford Insurnace Company. He was interested in cartooning from a young age. Though born in Nebraska, Ruscha lived in Oklahoma City for 15 years. Then moved to Los Angeles in 1956 together with four interesting artists and writers (Patrick Blackwell, Joe Goode, Jerry McMillan, Ed Ruscha, and Writer/Musician, Mason Williams), they lived together in an old house at 1818 North New Hampshire Avenue in Hollywood where they set up their own studio.

In Los Angeles, Ruscha studied at the Chouinard Art Institute (now known as te California Institute of the Arts) from 1956 to the 1960’s. While studying at Chouinard, He began painting in the prevalent abstract expressionist style of de Kooning and Kline. The faculty at Chouinard at this time includes Robert Irwin and Emerson Woelffer both of whom have a strong influence on Ruscha. The dry humor of long-time friend Mason Williams’ early poems such as “Hors D’Oeuvres” has been stated to reflect that of Ruscha’s own serious humor that appeared in his painting in the early 1960’s. After graduation, Ruscha took a job as a layout artist for the Carson-Roberts Advertising Agency in Los Angeles. Ruscha’s early career as a graphic artist continues to strongly influence his aesthetic and thematic approach.

Ruscha’s art was first “discovered” by young artist, art history teacher and variously gallerist and museum professional, Henry Hopkins. Who founded the Huysman Gallery in Los Angeles, and was one of the first gallery to show artists of Ruscha’s generation along with several of Ruscha’s classmates at Chouinard. The Huysman Gallery was closed in 1961 however due to controversy over a exhibition poster for an exhibition titled “War Babies” (info here ). Hence Ruscha missed the opportunity to show at the Gallery, but later had his first solo exhibition in 1963 at the Ferus Gallery founded by Walter Hopps, Edward Kienholz and Bob Alexander. By the early 1960s he was well known for his paintings, collages, and photographs, and for his association with the Ferus Gallery group, which also included artists John Altoon, John McCracken, Robert Irwin, Larry Bell, Ken Price, and Edward Kienholz. His work is largely associated to American Pop Art of the 1960s, an era of art that is historically divided between those working in New York (Roy Litchenstein, and Andy Warhol) and those working from the Westcoast (Joe Goode, Robert Dowd, Phillip Hefferton, and Wayne Thiebaud). In 1973, Ruscha began showing his work with Leo Castelli Gallery in New York.

Ruscha has been the subject of numerous museum retrospectives that have traveled internationally, including those organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1982, the Centre Georges Pompidou in 1989, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in 2000, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in 2002, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney in 2004. Also in 2004, The Whitney Museum of American Art organized two simultaneous exhibitions: “Cotton Puffs, Q-tips®, Smoke and Mirrors: The Drawings of Ed Ruscha,” which traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and “Ed Ruscha and Photography.” In 2005, Ruscha was the United States representative at the 51st Venice Biennale. The traveling exhibition “Ed Ruscha, Photographer” opened at the Jeu de Paume in Paris in 2006. In 2001, Ruscha was elected to The American Academy of Arts and Letters as a member of the Department of Art. Leave Any Information at the Signal, a volume of his writings and interviews, was published by MIT Press in 2002, and the first comprehensive monograph on the artist, Richard Marshall’s Ed Ruscha, was published by Phaidon in 2003. A major retrospective, “Ed Ruscha: Fifty Years of Painting,” opened at the Hayward Gallery in London in October 2009. It is currently on view at the Haus der Kunst, Munich, until May 2, 2010 and will open at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm, on May 29, 2010. He taught at UCLA as a visiting professor in 1969 and worked as layout designer for Artforum magazine under the pseudonym “Eddie Russia” from 1965 to 1969.

A more comprehensive Chronology here.