Edward Ruscha
USA, 1937
Edward Ruscha is one of the outstanding figures on the American West Coast art scene. Since 1956, when he moved to Los Angeles, his work has been identified with the visual repertory of the Californian lifestyle. From 1961 words became the central elements of his canvases. At first they were words taken from advertising, words whose graphic quality was heightened by a deliberately pictorial treatment. The knowledge he acquired as a student of graphic design at the Chouinard Art Institute (now CalArts) was combined with the taste for painting of Abstract Expressionism. Later the words began to appear associated with one another by means of internal plays of rhyme whose meaning seemed to be more poetic than anything else. Later still, the words appeared against backgrounds of twilight skies that imbued his work with a marked figurative character. That process turned the painted words into a barrier that prevented the eye from going beyond them. The spectator was simultaneously held in an interval marked by their material condition and transported by their evocative quality. One of the outstanding aspects of Ruscha's career has been the ‘visual noise’ made by his paintings. Writers like David Hickey have pointed out the intricate references hidden behind his phonetic games. Others, such as Bernard Blistène, emphasise the disjunction between the visual and the verbal in his work. The photographic vision favoured by the paintings, with their genuine objectivity and flatness, has found a constant response throughout Ruscha's career. He is the author of a series of books based mainly on photographic documentation of urban spaces and reiterated events. Twenty-six Gasoline Stations (1963), Some Los Angeles Apartments (1965), Thirty-four Parking Lots in Los Angeles (1967), Royal Road Test (1967) and A Few Palm Trees (1971) are examples. Those works, whose serial nature recalls the methods of Conceptual Art, have placed him at an intermediate stage that questions exclusive identification of his work as a whole with Pop Art.
Carlos Guerra