Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Edward Ruscha

Edward Ruscha is an American artist and photographer renowned for his deadpan approach to depicting his subject matters which in a lot of his work has been the irreverence of the Pop Art culture. Ruscha moved from Oklahoma City to Los Angeles in the 1950's as an art student and to this day, much of his work is entirely based on his personal experience and response to the glamour and manufactured culture he found while in California.

In 1963 Ruscha published the first of his books "Twenty Six Gasoline Stations" which is essentially exactly as the title describes it. The book contains images of petrol stations across the US simply stating their brand and location. Ruscha described the structures in these images as lazy architecture or zoom architecture relating to how they are primarily observed from a moving car.

"Twenty Six Gasoline Stations" Book Front Cover, 1963

Standard, Amarillo, Texas, 1962

A spread from "Twenty Six Gasoline Stations", 1963

The photographs are very ordinary and taken by Ruscha himself using his 2 1/4 inch format Yashica Camera. The photos were then compiled into a book and mass produced on high speed offset lithographic presses which in itself was a precedent given that up till then artist's publications were seen as rare and sought after items. The means in which he both created and published this work is in a sense a response to the uniformity and homogenous structures captured in his images.

In 1966 Ruscha published another book named "Every Building on Sunset Strip". In contrast to his previous publications this was a 26 foot long fold out book consisting of individual photographs taken from a moving truck by a motorised camera with a 35mm lens, that were then stitched together in order to form a complete street length elevation of the Hollywood Boulevard.

"Every Building on Sunset Strip" 1966
"Every Building on Sunset Strip" 1966

Shortly after the publication of this book Ruscha happened upon the chance to take a helicopter flight across Los Angeles. While in the air he photographed the city beneath and became focused on both car parks and swimming pools as visually dominating features of the city when viewed from above. In 1967 he published the book "Thirty Four Parking Lots" which, in the same matter of fact style as his previous publications, cataloged a number of these vast spaces across the city that were void of cars despite their occupation. All the images are from a slight angle as opposed to a exact aerial view which provides perspective to the photographs however the exclusion of a horizon provides no means of gauging the any scale.

"Thirty Four Parking Lots" 1967

Thirty of the Thirty Four Parking Lots, 1967

Dodger Stadium, Thirty Four Parking Lots, 1967

May Company Wiltshire Blvrd, Thirty Four Parking Lots, 1967
Adrian Cullen

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