CHRONOLOGY

Photo: Danna Ruscha

Full Biography here

1937

Edward Joseph Ruscha IV is born on December 16, in Omaha, Nebraska, the second of three children of Edward Joseph Ruscha III (born, Billings, Missouri, 1891, died, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1959) and Dorothy Driscoll Ruscha (born, Chicago, Illinois, 1907, died, Oklahoma City, 1985). The father is of Bohemian/German descent, the mother of German/Irish descent. A sister, Shelby, is born in 1936 and a brother, Paul, in 1942. A half-sister, Mary Frances Ruscha, from a previous marriage, is born in 1921 and dies in 1995. Edward is given a strict Catholic upbringing attending church on Sundays and holidays throughout his youth.

1941

The family moves to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma where Edward Ruscha, Sr. works as an auditor for Hartford Insurance Company.

1943

Ruscha enters the first grade at a Catholic school where lifelong friend and future artist Joe Goode also attends. Dorothy Ruscha cannot tolerate the repressive discipline of her children by the parochial school nuns and after a year has them transferred to Hawthorne Elementary School. She encourages her son's artistic inclinations.

1947

At Hawthorne, becomes friendly with future writer and musician Mason Williams and together they create a large mural of the Oklahoma Land Run for their 4th grade class. Ruscha's first exposure to art comes from a neighborhood friend, Bob Bonaparte, who is a cartoonist, and Ruscha begins drawing his own cartoons. He attributes the tactile quality of materials such as paper and Higgins India Ink as the catalyst for his interest in art.

1948

Ruscha enrolls in a painting class of Richard Goetz, an Oklahoma City portrait painter, and stays for about three months. Ruscha has commented that at the time he was still more interested in drawing cartoons though the smell of turpentine, oil paint and linseed oil struck him immediately. The work of cartoonists such as Basil Wolverton and Chester Gould as well as the animated films of the Walt Disney Studio remain his major influences during this period.

1949

At the age of twelve Ruscha works as a gofer for the Spike Jones Band. "I was running for things like a dozen eggs which Spike would then grab and throw at his musicians." Ruscha noted that the madcap style of Jones was the musical equivalent of his own burgeoning interest in art, particularly cartooning. Such humor-tantamount to a dadaist sensibility-left its mark on Ruscha's later style as when a foreign object would intrude on an established subject such as a floating olive in the sky above a Standard Station or the glass of milk at the end of the book Various Small Fires and Milk.

Ruscha makes his first trip to California on a family summer vacation visiting his maternal grandparents in Boulder Creek in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

1952

Age fourteen, Ruscha hitchhikes with a friend through the south to Florida passing through towns whose names-Dublin, Sweetwater, Vicksburg-he places in paintings of 1959-61.

1953

Ruscha enters Classen High School in Oklahoma City enrolling in art classes along with friends Joe Goode and Jerry McMillan where he also becomes interested in typography and printing.

1955

Ruscha visits his sister Shelby now studying anthropology in Mexico City. It is his first time outside the United States and his first exposure to a cosmopolitan city. While there he meets the architect Luis Barragan whose development at El Pedregal makes a deep impression on him.

Joins U.S. Navy Reserve.

1956

Receives first prize in graphic design from the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce.

Graduates high school.

Ruscha drives to California with Mason Williams to escape the provincialism of Oklahoma City, with the intention of becoming a commercial artist. He enters Chouinard Art Institute (now California Institute of the Arts), a fine arts school, where he studies until 1960. He begins 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. Other students include Joe Goode, Larry Bell, Llyn Foulkes Jerry McMillan, Patrick Blackwell and Wally Batterton.

1957

Through magazine reproductions Ruscha encounters the work of Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. He is particularly moved by Johns' targets and flags and credits these works as giving him license to use the commercial and popular vernacular as fine art. It is at this point he abandons the idea of becoming a commercial artist and commits himself to painting.

1958

Ruscha and fellow Oklahomans Patrick Blackwell, Joe Goode, Jerry McMillan and Don Moore share a house at 1818 North New Hampshire Avenue in Hollywood where they set up a studio.

He completes the eponymous painting Su, named after girlfriend Su Hall, which begins an artistic exploration of juxtaposed unrelated images-in this instance three gestural bands comprised of paint and fabric with a word that dominates the lower half of the picture.

He apprentices for six months with Saul Marks at the Plantin Press where he learns to hand set type. He becomes interested in book printing, layout and the tactile qualities of paper, developing in his words "a respect for pages".

1959

Ruscha frequents Los Angeles galleries such as Ferus and Dwan allowing him to see in person the new work coming out of New York and Europe.

He begins making small, representative works on paper such as the construction Dublin, in which unrelated elements are framed in one or more ink-drawn squares, developing the pictorial style of Su.

1960

Ruscha leaves Chouinard and begins working full time as a layout artist at the Carson-Roberts Advertising Agency in Los Angeles.

He sees Johns' sculptures of common objects and Kurt Schwitters collages for the first time in person in an exhibition organized by Walter Hopps at the Ferus Gallery.

1961

Ruscha travels extensively throughout Great Britain and Europe. Though he has little interest in the contemporary art he sees there, he is fascinated with several eccentric works such as Head of Mussolini by R.A. Bertelli, a round double-headed profile that can be viewed as such from any angle, and Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais. In Paris he sees more work of Johns and Rauschenberg confirming the connections he feels to them. During his travels Ruscha photographs street life and makes numerous small paintings and collages on paper, some using words and street iconography; many in the pictorial style inaugurated with Dublin,.

Returning to the west coast he stops over in New York. At the Leo Castelli Gallery he is shown Roy Lichtenstein's painting Keds which greatly impresses him and is the first work of pop art he becomes aware of. At The Museum of Modern Art he views J.T. Baargeld's drawing Beetles whose diagrammatic oddness he relates to the sensibilities in his own work, manifesting itself in paintings such as Parking Lines.

Back in Los Angeles in the fall Ruscha shows Henry Hopkins, then a curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, several paintings including Su and Sweetwater,. The latter is named after a town in Tennessee that Ruscha had traveled through in 1952. His largest work to ChronoDate, it shows the influence of Johns' painting Tennyson. The painting is purchased by Hopkins and later inadvertently destroyed.

Box Smashed Flat (Vicksburg) is completed this year, developed from the pictorial incongruities of works such as Dublin, and Sweetwater,, and is the first instance in the artist's work when a familiar object has been represented pictorially as damaged or destroyed. He begins a number of large paintings such as Boss in which single words are isolated against monochromatic fields nuanced by impasto.

Meets Walter Hopps and Irving Blum of the Ferus Gallery and develops friendships with a number of the gallery artists including John Altoon, Billy Al Bengston, Robert Irwin, Craig Kauffman and Kenneth Price.

Ruscha resumes his position at Carson-Roberts but leaves shortly to devote himself exclusively to painting. He relocates his studio to 3327 Division Street in the Glassell Park district of Los Angeles and incorporates this address in several graphic works of the period.

1962

In September, Walter Hopps, now at the Pasadena Art Museum, includes Ruscha along with Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Wayne Thiebaud and Joe Goode in the important survey "New Painting of Common Objects." It is the first exhibition of work soon to become known as "pop art."

Ruscha completes Large Trademark with Eight Spotlights, the first of an intended series of subjects with dramatic architectural perspective that he projects to include Standard Station and Wonder Bread.

1963

In January, publishes the book Twentysix Gasoline Stations in an edition of 400 numbered copies under the imprint "A National Excelsior Publication," which is taken from the cover of a daybook uses for notes on his paintings. Using mass production printing techniques, it comprises 26 utilitarian black and white photographs of gas stations taken along Route 66 the year before. Significant for its detached and documentary style as a catalog of raw visual data it looks back to the photography of Walker Evans and Robert Frank, and forward to the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher. With its straightforward lettered covers reminiscent of his drawings, it has influence on artists of the late sixties such as Bruce Nauman, Robert Smithson and Lawrence Weiner.

Ruscha relocates his studio to 2215 Echo Park Avenue in the Echo Park district of Los Angeles.

Completes the painting Noise, Pencil, Broken Pencil, Cheap Western, an eclectic inventory of images, action and semiotic depiction of sound, which he considers to be one of his best works.

On May 20th Ruscha's first one-man show opens at the Ferus Gallery. Among the paintings exhibited are Annie and Large Trademark with Eight Spotlights. Prices for the works range from $150 to $400.

Participates in two important museum shows in California: "Pop Art USA" organized by John Coplans for the Oakland Art Museum and "Six More," organized by Lawrence Alloway as a west coast companion to his "Six Painters and the Object", which traveled to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from the Guggenheim.

In October, Marcel Duchamp is given his first retrospective which is organized by Walter Hopps for the Pasadena Art Museum. Ruscha meets Duchamp whose works such as The Chocolate Grinder have a tremendous impact on his own art.

1964

In January, Ruscha moves his studio to 2351 ½ Vestal Avenue in Echo Park Avenue.

Ruscha publishes his second book, Various Small Fires and Milk and designs the cover for Mason Williams' first book, Bicyclists Dismount.

He begins word drawings in graphite and does the lettering on a series of satirical drawings and pastels by John Altoon that are subsequently shown at the David Stuart Gallery.

The wry pictorial vandalism initiated in the 1961 painting Box Smashed Flat (Vicksburg) is continued in several paintings of this period which depict words in the process of being damaged or set on fire. Ruscha has noted that many of the words used in his early works "represented things being broken, smashed (or) damaged."

He moves his studio to 3708 Eagle Rock Boulevard in the Glassell Park district.

On October 20th Ruscha's second one-man show opens at the Ferus Gallery. Among the works exhibited is Standard Station, Amarillo, Texas which is bought by Dennis Hopper, whose photograph Double Standard appears on the announcement. He receives his first significant national exposure from this show with a favorable review from Nancy Marmer in Artforum.

1965

Ruscha moves his studio to 1024 3/4 North Western Avenue in Hollywood and maintains this address for 20 years.

He participates in "Word and Image" organized by the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Using the pseudonym "Eddie Russia" Ruscha began doing layouts commencing with the October issue for Artforum magazine whose editorial offices are above the Ferus Gallery. Though Artforum moves it's offices to New York in 1967, he continues in this capacity through the summer issue of 1969.

Publishes his third book, Some Los Angeles Apartments, and completes a series of ten enigmatic and idealized graphite drawings on the subject.

On November 16, Ruscha's third one-man show opens at Ferus, consisting of a series of bird and fish paintings. These works depict Field and Stream-type subjects seen in bizarre transformational or comical situations.

1966

In January, Ruscha is included in Los Angeles Now at the Robert Fraser Gallery in London, his first European exhibition.

He creates his first "liquid word" painting, Annie, Poured from Maple Syrup, the beginning of a series that continues through 1969. Numerous graphic works of the period also incorporate similar liquid lettering.

Using a split-fountain technique available to commercial printers, Ruscha creates his first screenprint, Standard Station, based on his earlier Standard Station paintings. The gradation of background color he introduces in this print becomes an idée fixe for the backgrounds of numerous paintings beginning in 1966. He receives a purchase award from the Los Angeles Printmaking Society and Lytton Savings and Loan for the Standard Station screenprint.

Publishes the book Every Building on the Sunset Strip, a photographic panorama of the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. It has a particular impact on architect Robert Venturi who creates a version for his book Learning From Las Vegas. The premise of a democratic registering of a place down to insignificant minutia is testament to Ruscha's ability to chronicle the factual as an artistic statement.

Ruscha designs the Mason Williams book The Night I Lost My Baby: A Las Vegas Vignette and the cover photograph, "Surrealism Soaped and Scrubbed" for Artforum's issue on surrealism. His work appears in Lucy Lippard's survey, Pop Art.

Begins a series of handwriting drawings with graphite leading to his use of gunpowder as a medium in drawings the following year.

1967

Marries Danna Knego in Las Vegas in February. In the same month receives an award in painting from the National Council on the Arts.

Ruscha participates in several important exhibitions including "São Paulo 9," "United States of America/V Paris Biennale" and the "1967 Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Painting" at the Whitney Museum.

Publishes Royal Road Test with Mason Williams and Patrick Blackwell which is cited as an influence by Robert Smithson, and Thirtyfour Parking Lots in Los Angeles which Richard Kostelanetz calls a "reiterated, scathing critique of Los Angeles urban design and its bondage to the automobile."

Gunpowder Drawings, his first one-man show in New York, opens December 12 at the Alexander Iolas Gallery, a gallery primarily known for showing Max Ernst, René Magritte and other surrealists. He is recommended to Iolas by William Copley whose own work is shown at the gallery under the signature CPLY.

1968

Ruscha is part of a two-man show with Joe Goode at the Balboa Pavillion Gallery and has a solo show at the Irving Blum Gallery in Los Angeles where the large painting Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Fire is purchased by Joseph Hirshhorn.

He produces the eponymous Hollywood, a silkscreen print that becomes one of his most recognizable images and is the first of several versions of the famous landmark executed as paintings, drawings and other editions.

Publishes Nine Swimming Pools and a Broken Glass and collaborates with Billy Al Bengston on Business Cards. The latter book is the artist's first publication under his imprint Heavy Industry Publications, taken from a 1962 painting. He designs a catalogue for Bengston's exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with a cover made of sandpaper and pink flocking, illustrating Ruscha's continuing interest in incongruity and tactility.

Ruscha designs the album cover for Mason Williams' Music, and begins filming Williams at his Mulholland Drive house mixing a mint julep, and then with the camera over his shoulder, flipping through Ruscha's artist's books and reading aloud the captions. The film, in 16mm color, is left unfinished.

A son, Edward Joseph Ruscha V, is born December 14.

1969

Ruscha is awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and is a recipient of a two-month fellowship at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles where he creates twenty-two separate editions of prints. A one-man show of his graphics is subsequently held at the Irving Blum Gallery. He is included in the large survey exhibition, "Pop Art," held at the Hayward Gallery, London.

Publishes the photo-novel Crackers from a Mason Williams short story. It is designed with a wax paper-like dust jacket to simulate the wrapper of a box of saltines. He publishes the portfolio Stains which is his first use of unconventional mediums as well as an often humorous inventory of substances that create common household stains.

Seth Siegelaub organizes "One Month," an exhibition and catalogue of 31 artists who are invited to submit a work for a specific ChronoDate in the month of March in what is to become the first exhibition of conceptual art. Ruscha is assigned the 27th and is one of seven artists who does not respond to the invitation. His non-reply is published as a blank page.

In September Ruscha is included in "557,087," an exhibition of conceptual art at the Seattle Art Museum organized by Lucy Lippard that travels in an augmented version to the Vancouver Art Gallery where it is titled "955,000."

In October contributes "Five 1955 Girlfriends" to the exhibition "Konzeption-Conception" at the Städtisches Museum in Leverkusen.

Visiting professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, 1969-70, where he teaches drawing and printmaking.

1970

While in London Ruscha produces a portfolio of prints at Editions Alecto, News, Mews, Pews, Brews, Stews, and Dues, for which he employs unusual materials such as food, flowers and axle grease in place of standard screenprint inks. During the next year he will begin using food and other organic substances in lieu of paint.

Ruscha produces the book Babycakes with Weights for inclusion in the Multiples portfolio Artists & Photographs and publishes the book Real Estate Opportunities. His "Five 1965 Girlfriends" is published in a special issue of Design Quarterly devoted to conceptual architecture and "Five 1955 Girlfriends" is reproduced for an article on conceptual art in Magazin Kunst .

One-man exhibitions of his liquid word paintings are held successively at the Alexander Iolas Gallery in New York and Paris. Photo based work is included in "Information" organized by Kynaston McShine at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, "18 Paris IV. 70" organized by Michel Claura and "Conceptual Art and Conceptual Aspects" organized by Donald Karshan for the New York Cultural Center.

Ruscha creates Chocolate Room, an installation for the 35th Venice Biennale, again using an unconventional medium-Nestle's chocolate paste-silk screened onto 360 sheets of paper and installed like shingles on the gallery walls. Chocolate Room is recreated in 1995 for conceptual art exhibition "Reconsidering the Object of Art" at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and again in 1999 for the exhibition "Edward Ruscha Editions 1959-1999" at the Walker Art Center. In 2003 the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, purchases the work.

No paintings are made during 1970. Ruscha tells the critic David Bourdon: "I can't bring myself to put paint on canvas? I find no message there anymore."

1971

Ruscha produces only five paintings during this year confining his artistic activity primarily to books, a film, printmaking, and creating drawings with organic substances.

He publishes A Few Palm Trees and Records. The latter book comes shrink-wrapped in the manner of an LP, testifying to Ruscha's continual attention to humorous detail. His book Dutch Details is published by the Octopus Foundation for Sonsbeek '71 with the majority of the print run mistakenly destroyed in a warehouse.

Ruscha's series of punning photographs "Tanks, Banks, Ranks, Thanks" appears in the magazine Rags.

He begins shooting the16mm color film Premium based on his photo-novel Crackers published in 1969. The film which features Larry Bell, Leon Bing, Rudi Gernreich, and Tommy Smothers, is completed with the assistance of a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.

Ruscha is included in exhibitions at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and the Hayward Gallery, London.

The British architectural historian Reyner Banham publishes his study Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies, which makes extensive use of Ruscha's photographs and art.

Ruscha receives a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.

1972

"Edward Ruscha (Ed-werd Rew-shay) Young Artist," a major survey of drawings, prints, and books, is organized by Edward A. Foster at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota. Ruscha designs the accompanying catalog to resemble a "Big Little Book," a popular pulp format of the thirties and forties.

Ruscha publishes Colored People. Feeling he had exhausted the medium of the artist book, it would be his last for six years.

Insects a portfolio of screenprints, is published by Multiples, Inc. Ruscha designs the box with a plastic cover encapsulating dirt from the playground of his elementary school in Oklahoma City in order to give it the appearance of an ant farm.

He creates a cover for the April issue of ARTnews, "Art News, Sweet and Sour," an Arcimboldo-like composition of strawberries, peppers, olives, anchovies, pickles, and other foodstuffs arranged to spell out the magazine's name.

Ruscha produces a print for "Documenta 5," which is also used for the exhibition's poster and catalogue cover. The catalogue also reprints "Five 1955 Girlfriends" first published in 1969.

Ursula Meyer reprints "Concerning Various Small Fires: Edward Ruscha Discusses His Perplexing Publications" for her anthology Conceptual Art.

Ruscha separates from his wife Danna Ruscha.

1973

An exhibition of Ruscha's books is held in January at Ursula Wevers, Cologne. In February, Ruscha opens his first one-man exhibition at Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, featuring his drawings. His relationship with Castelli will last until the latter's death in 1999. In April he shows drawings and the Stains portfolio at Galleria Françoise Lambert, Milan. He has a second exhibition later that month at Nigel Greenwood Inc., London, where he shows his first series of large paintings with single-word titled images, Faith, Mercy, Pity, Hope, Purity, three small paintings, Faith, Hope, and Pity, and three drawings titled "Mercy," reflecting his Catholic Church upbringing.

In September Ruscha exhibits a large group of stain paintings for his first show at Ace Gallery, Los Angeles. The exhibition inaugurates the gallery's new space on La Cienega Boulevard which was formerly occupied by Irving Blum. A contemporary review in the Los Angeles Times calls his art "roguish" while citing Ruscha's comic genius and his relevance as a precursor of conceptual art.

Ruscha's books are cited in Lucy Lippard's documentary survey of conceptual art, Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object. Ruscha is also the subject of a lengthy interview with Willoughby Sharp in the short-lived but extremely influential journal Avalanche and is featured in Michael Blackwood's film documentary American Art in the Sixties.

1974

Ruscha's second one-man exhibition at Leo Castelli Gallery opens March 30. Lawrence Alloway includes several Ruscha paintings in his "American Pop Art" exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. In October Ruscha shows eight stain paintings at Galleria Françoise Lambert, Milan.

Peter Plagens publishes Sunshine Muse, the first major survey of contemporary West Coast art. He writes: "When Ruscha's considerable wit creeps openly into his art, it's as though by accident, as when the bespectacled boy-genius drops his secret fluid and it poofs into a genii: the pointed 'dumbness,' the pseudo-naïve tours de force, the mock worship of California's earthly paradise. Ruscha is a Los Angeles phenomenon, precariously indigenous to a garden of vulgarity (as Warhol is ultimately alien to his) with only his own insouciance and facility to ward off the smothering flora."

Ruscha appears in the BBC documentary One Pair of Eyes: Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles. He also receives the medal in graphics from the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.

1975

An exhibition, Edward Ruscha: Prints and Publications 1962-74, is sponsored by the Arts Council of Great Britain and travels to twelve council-member galleries throughout England.

Ruscha produces the photo-based series Tropical Fish at Gemini G.E.L. Like much of his work it documents the oddness of middle-American culture.

He completes the 16mm color film Miracle (also the title of a 1973 drawing and various later works) featuring Jim Ganzer and Michelle Phillips in a tongue-in-cheek tale of a mechanic who goes through a series of religious epiphanies while repairing a '65 Ford Mustang.

"Bless You," an original work, appears in the premiere issue of Vision, published by Crown Point Press in Oakland. Ruscha designs the "Devil or Angel" cover for the winter/spring issue of the journal Art-Rite.

1976

A "Matrix" exhibition of paintings, prints, drawings and books opens in February at the Wadsworth Atheneum. In March an exhibition of Ruscha's drawings, graphics, and books is held at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. In the same month three Ruscha paintings are included in "The Last Time I Saw Ferus," a retrospective homage to the Ferus Gallery, organized by Betty Turnbull for the Newport Harbor Art Museum.

"Edward Ruscha," a major survey of paintings, drawings, and prints organized by Linda Cathcart for the Albright-Knox Museum, Buffalo, opens on June 8.

For the Venice Biennale in June, Ruscha creates an installation entitled Vanishing Cream consisting of the letters written in Vaseline petroleum jelly on a black wall. No other paintings are completed in 1976.
Ruscha produces Various Cheeses, a series of six lithographs, at Gemini G.E.L.

Ruscha begins building a desert house near Joshua Tree National Monument in Southern California.

1977

Ruscha creates the billboard painting, Back of Hollywood, as part of an artist project for the Eyes and Ears Foundation. Ruscha's work is a reverse image of his well-known 1968 print of the Hollywood sign. The billboard, installed in February in a parking lot on Wilshire Boulevard across from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, can only be read properly in the rear-view mirror of a traveling car.

He begins the series of Grand Horizontal paintings usually depicting words, phrases, and diagrams against blazing sunsets. This format, sometimes extending over thirteen feet in length, is reflective of the time Ruscha is spending in the desert, although the style and substance can be traced back to his print of the Hollywood sign.

In December Ruscha has two one-man exhibitions: "Recent Drawings" at the Fort Worth Art Museum and "Recent Paintings" at Ace Gallery in Venice.

1978

In September he has a major exhibition of his drawings and prints at the Auckland City Art Gallery in New Zealand. He attends the opening and afterward travels to Australia, Bali, Singapore, and the Philippines. Other exhibitions this year include those at Galerie Ricke in Cologne, Castelli Uptown in New York, Ace Gallery in Vancouver, and MTL Gallery in Brussels.

Ruscha collaborates with Lawrence Weiner on the book Hard Light.

He designs the catalogue Stella Since 1970 for the Fort Worth Art Museum.

Ruscha receives his second grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

1979

Ruscha has a one-man exhibition at InK, Halle für Internationale neue Kunst, Zurich where he shows three thirteen-foot paintings. One-man exhibitions of new work are also held at the Texas Gallery in Houston and Richard Hines Gallery in Seattle.

He participates in the documentary Seven Artists directed by Geoffrey Haydon for the BBC.

1980

"Edward Ruscha: Paintings and Drawings" opens in January at the Portland Center for the Visual Arts. New paintings are seen in a series of exhibitions at Ace Gallery, Leo Castelli Gallery, and Nigel Greenwood Inc.

1981

"Edward Ruscha: New Works," which includes seven Grand Horizontal paintings and a series of works on paper, opens at the Arco Center for Visual Art in Los Angeles in January. The works on paper, using carrot juice as a medium (Anybody's Tornado, Prune Drive, Honey?, Hold On for a Minute?, and Blazing Orifices), suggest the scatological and reinforce the comic nature of his work.

An exhibition of "D Drawings," a series of drawings that depict phrases as if interrupted by stuttering, opens at Castelli Gallery in February.

In June, a one-man exhibition of recent paintings is held at Ace Gallery in Vancouver.

In July, Ruscha is included in "Art in Los Angeles: Seventeen Artists in the Sixties," organized by Maurice Tuchman at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

In October Ruscha is included in an exhibition and catalogue of conceptual art "No Title: The Collection of Sol LeWitt" at Wesleyan University.

He appears in L.A. Suggested by the Art of Edward Ruscha, a documentary by Gary Conklin shot at the artist's studio and desert home.

1982

A major retrospective, "The Works of Edward Ruscha," is organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and opens in March. The exhibition travels to the Whitney Museum of American Art and three other venues in the United States and Canada. Fellow artist Andy Warhol notes in his diary ChronoDated July 15: "It was a scorcher. Went to the Whitney Museum (admission $4). Saw the Ed Ruscha show, which was interesting."

"Drawings 1967-72" also opens in March at John Berggruen Gallery in San Francisco, followed by "New Paintings and Drawings" at Flow Ace Gallery in Los Angeles in April, "New Drawings" at Castelli Uptown in New York in June, and "Edward Ruscha 1960-1970" at Castelli/Feigen/Corcoran in New York in September.

Ruscha participates in "Documenta 7," which opens in June.

1983

"The Works of Edward Ruscha" opens at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on March 17 in the Ahmanson wing of the museum that Ruscha had depicted burning in his 1968 painting Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Fire. The exhibition is augmented with a number of recent paintings and drawings, resulting in the exhibition being divided into two "phases" with the second phase opening May 3.

Ruscha's glamorous "bad boy" persona and his Los Angeles County Museum retrospective are subjects for a People magazine profile in its May issue. In the article Henry Geldzahler is quoted as saying, "Conceptual, pop, surrealist, dada, neo-dada, earth art-all these are arguable elements of his style. Ruscha can be pinned down partially by any of these labels and yet he escapes all of them."

1984

An exhibition of new paintings opens in March at the Leo Castelli Gallery, New York.

Ruscha accepts a small role in the film Choose Me directed by his friend Alan Rudolph. Ruscha was originally associated with a 1976 Rudolph production, Welcome to L.A., in which he played an artist. His performance and the credit titles he designed for the film were ultimately not used though he meets the actress and model Lauren Hutton on the set and becomes a close friend.

In July, his work appears in "The Automobile and Culture," curated by Walter Hopps. It is the inaugural exhibition of the Temporary Contemporary of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

Ruscha's books are included in the traveling exhibition "From the Collection of Sol LeWitt" that opens in October.

In November, Ruscha's prints are included in the exhibition "Gemini G.E.L.: Art and Collaboration" that opens at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., and travels to several other institutions over the next four years.

1985
An exhibition of new paintings opens January 15 at the James Corcoran Gallery, Los Angeles.

Ruscha receives a commission to do the rotunda mural for the newly built Miami-Dade Public Library designed by Philip Johnson. To accomplish this, he moves into a large studio on Electric Avenue in Venice, California. The rotunda painting Words Without Thoughts Never to Heaven Go and the lunette painting Whenever are completed in June. Ruscha and his assistant Greg Colson drive the paintings across country and install them in July, finishing the installation on the eve of the library's opening on July 19.

An important survey of early and new work opens in October at the Musée St. Pierre Art Contemporain, Lyon.

The exhibition "Contemporary Prints, Contemporary Visions: Edward Ruscha, Prints 1979–1984" opens at the Fisher Gallery of the University of Southern California in November.

1986

Ruscha has exhibitions of new work in February at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York, and, at the Texas Gallery in April.

In June, "4 x 6," a major exhibition of drawings with a catalogue and essay by Marianne Stockebrand, opens at the Westfälischer Kunstverein in Münster, Germany.

In July, Ruscha begins his series of silhouette paintings. These paintings are among his largest to ChronoDate, his new Venice studio allowing the possibility to work in larger sizes.

In September, Ruscha exhibits the silhouette paintings for the first time in a one-man show at the Fuller Goldeen Gallery, San Francisco. This is the first public indication of a new direction in Ruscha's work.

At the Tamarind Institute, Ruscha creates four lithographs in the style of the ongoing series of silhouette paintings.

In December, Ruscha is included in "Individuals," the first exhibition in the permanent new building of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

1987

Ruscha is the subject of a long commentary "Sweet Logos" in the January issue of Artforum by the poet and art critic Bill Berkson, who in reviewing the new silhouette paintings at Fuller Goldeen places these wordless paintings in the context of the literary: "I keep 'hearing' poetry in the room, for example John Ashbery's stellar title 'Into the Dusk-Charged Air.'"

Collector Frederick Weisman commissions Ruscha to paint the exterior of his private plane, a Lockheed JetStar. The plane is painted a midnight blue with clusters of galaxy stars relating it to a number of his constellation paintings of the early eighties.

Begun in 1978, artist Kent Twitchell completes a six-story, 11,000-square-foot mural, Ed Ruscha Monument, on a building at 1031 S. Hill Street in downtown Los Angeles, one of several portraits of artists and other well-known Los Angeles figures painted by Twitchell. The mural was preserved until 2006 when it was illegally painted over.

In April, Ruscha submits his proposal to do upwards of fifty archway lunette paintings for the Miami-Dade Public Library, and a final contract is signed in August. Having previously conceptualized the project by making studies on paper, the majority of the lunettes are painted within these several months. Ruscha uses scale models of the library to determine the placement of the lunette paintings throughout the library, although complexities with framing them prevent their installation until July 1989. Thirty-five of the lunette paintings are exhibited at Castelli's Greene Street gallery in November.

Two silhouette paintings from 1986 (The Uncertain Trail and Name, Address, Phone) are exhibited at the Whitney Biennial in April, marking the first international exposure to this new body of work.

A one-man exhibition of silhouette paintings opens at Robert Miller Gallery in conjunction with Castelli on November 3.

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