Ed Ruscha. California Grapeskins, 2010. Acrylic on canvas. 38 1/8 x 64 1/8 in.
(96.8 x 162.9 cm). Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery. © Ed Ruscha.
Ed Ruscha. Manaña, 2009. Acrylic on canvas. 38 5/8 x 72 in. (98 x 183 cm). Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery. © Ed Ruscha.
Ed Ruscha. Everything Takes Care of Itself, 2009. Acrylic on museum board paper. 20 x 30 1/8 in. (50.8 x 76.5 cm). Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery. © Ed Ruscha.
Recently I read that in the many Pacific Standard Time exhibits showing over the next few months in LA, Ed Ruscha's work would be shown more often than any other artist, with the exception of John Baldessari. So whether the Hammer Museum was trying to get in on the glut or it was all just perfect timing that they would have the opportunity to show Ruscha's work based on the infamous novel "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac around the same time, this show dips into the Ruscha’s conceptual waters. It’s obviously fitting that Ruscha, the guy who shot the pics for Twentysix Gasoline Stations, while on his own road trip on Route 66, would have an affinity for the book. Ruscha’s signature lettering, flattened mountainscapes, and billboard references are in big abundance here.
What may be most interesting about the work, is Ruscha’s decision to make this work now. At this point in Ruscha’s 50+ year career, he can do anything he wants. So why make these paintings now? Paintings that reference work he was been making since the late 1990’s? There’s a great romance with the notion of the freedom of being on the road, the rebellious beat poets living outside of society’s norms and our countries’ mythologizing of the 50’s in general. With unemployment at it’s highest since the Depression, with ultra-extreme politicians ranting, the fear of a double dip recession and the first Afro-American president, it’s no wonder Ruscha would choose to make and show work that relates to a time that lives on in fantasy in our minds. It’s a nostalgic daydream while also being a swipe at our super fast paced lives, lives that are driven by the hyper media of the 24/7 news channels and the overwhelming amount of info on the internet. Surely Ruscha continues to comment on media and society, if only in a slightly different way.
The show runs through October 2 at the Hammer Museum.
To read my other post on Ruscha regarding his Gagosian show earlier this year, go here.