Ed Joseph (Edward) Ruscha
Ed Joseph (Edward) Ruscha is active/lives in California, Nebraska. Ed Ruscha is known for pop-word modeling illusions.
Ed Joseph (Edward) Ruscha
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Biography from the Archives of askART
Ruscha was born on December 16, 1937 in Omaha, Nebraska. He was brought
up in Oklahoma. In 1956 Ruscha drove west from Oklahoma City with
songwriter Mason Williams. At the time he was doing monosyllable word
paintings, as well as the paintings of gas stations, sunsets and the
Hollywood sign. He studied at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los
Angeles under Richard Rubin from 1956 through 1960. He served in the
United States Navy in Los Angeles at about the same time.
Biography from the Archives of askART
married Danna Knego, and in 1968 their only son, Edward Joseph Ruscha V,
was born. They called him Frenchy. In 1977, Ruscha and Danna were
divorced, but ten years later they remarried. They live in a low-slung
ranch house high in the Santa Monica Mountains. When their next door
neighbors moved out, they bought that house, and remodeled the two
houses together into a larger rambling one that suited them to
perfection. In addition Ruscha maintains a warehouse-sized studio in
Venice, California and a getaway house in Palm Springs.
art elaborated language and popular culture and his quirky approach to
art made his work difficult to categorize. A truly remarkable fact is
that despite his success over the years he often had exhibitions in
which not a single painting was sold. He took this as a matter of
course and eventually his work sold, although it sometimes took several
years. He is very prolific; he paints and draws, using unexpected
materials in unexpected ways; photography looms very large in his
choice of media and through it all, words. He records the contemporary
scene in all its flavors.
He lectured on painting at the
University of California at Los Angeles in 1969 and 1970. When Frenchy
was twenty, they modeled together in magazine ads for the Gap clothing
store chain. He has appeared in several movies.
Written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.
"Pop Goes Los Angeles", article by Mark Stevens in Newsweek magazine, August 23, 1982
"The Last Word" by Ralph Rugoff in ARTnews magazine, December 1989
"Rancho Ruscha" by Hunter Drohojowska-Philip in Architectural Digest, date unknown
Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Ed Ruscha became a prominent figure in the
fine arts in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. In 2004, he
was selected as the solo representative of the United States to the
Venice Biennale* in June, 2005.
Biography from Denis Bloch Fine Art
Working from a studio in
Hollywood, California, he did work that includes painting, graphic art,
photography, writing, and filmmaking. He is especially known for
his witty paintings with calligraphy* and numeric messages that reflect
urban imagery of American life, especially the West and Southern
California. Titles of his works include US 66, (1960; Twenty-Six Gasoline Stations, (1964); Real Estate Opportunities, (1970); and Honey, I Twisted Through More Danmed Traffic Today (1970).
He studied art at the Chouinard Art Institute* in Los Angeles
between 1956 and 1960, and then served in the United States Navy,
traveled in Europe, and taught as artist-in-residence at numerous
universities and art schools.
of his earliest letter
paintings were done in his Paris hotel room from sketches he made of
subway signs and other recognizable pop-culture images. Many of
backgrounds were painterly*, meaning heavy with impasto*. He has
created numerous books featuring photographs that document American
gasoline stations, houses, and swimming pools, among other
subjects. Much of this subject matter came from his trips across
America, beginning in 1956 when he left his hometown of Oklahoma City
and drove west along Route 66 to Los Angeles, a trip he was to repeat
A special 2001 traveling exhibition of his work: "Edward Ruscha"
was held June-September 1 at The Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC, and
from November 20 to June 3, 2001, was at the Museum of Contemporary Art in
Chicago. Beginning January, 2006, a traveling exhibition, "Ed
Ruscha: Photographer", began touring Europe with an opening in Paris at
the Musee Jeu de Paume.
Dorothy Spears, "Road Trip", Art & Antiques, February 2006, p. 47-49
Matthew Baigell, Dictionary of American Art
* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see
A painter, printmaker, and filmmaker, Edward Ruscha was born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1937, and lived some 15 years in Oklahoma City before moving permanently to Los Angeles where he studied at the Chouinard Art Institute from 1956 through 1960.
** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at
By the early sixties he was well known for his paintings, collages, and printmaking, and for his association with the progressive Ferus Gallery, which also included artists Robert Irwin, Edward Moses, Ken Price, and Edward Kienholz.
Ruscha has consistently combined the cityscape of his adopted hometown with vernacular language to communicate a particular urban experience. Encompassing painting, drawing, photography, and artist's books, Ruscha's work holds the mirror up to the banality of urban life and gives order to the barrage of mass media-fed images and information that confronts us daily. Ruscha's early career as a graphic artist continues to strongly influence his aesthetic and thematic approach.
In 1962, Ruscha's work was included, along with Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Robert Dowd, Phillip Hefferton, Joe Goode, Jim Dine, and Wayne Thiebaud, in the historically important and ground-breaking "New Painting of Common Objects," curated by Ferus Gallery alumni Walter Hopps at the Pasadena Art Museum. This exhibition is historically considered one of the first Pop Art exhibitions in America.
Since 1964, Ruscha has been experimenting with painting and drawing words and phrases, often oddly comic and satirical sayings. When asked where he got his inspiration for his paintings, Ruscha responded, "Well, they just occur to me; sometimes people say them and I write down and then I paint them. Sometimes I use a dictionary." From 1966 to 1969, Ruscha painted his "liquid word" paintings. Ruscha achieved recognition for his word paintings and for his many photographic books, all influenced by the deadpan irreverence of the Pop Art movement.
Born and raised Catholic, Ruscha readily admits to the influence of religion in his work. He is also aware of the centuries-old tradition of religious imagery in which light beams have been used to represent divine presence. But his work makes no claims for a particular moral position or spiritual attitude.
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 Ruscha exhibitions which traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
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. 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. A major retrospective of Ruscha's works is scheduled for 2009 in London, England.
"Streets are like ribbons. They're like ribbons, and they're dotted with facts. Fact ribbons, I guess. That's potential subject matter to me, and so I take some things and I write them down and I look at them forever and forever and forever, and I might use something 10 years afterward that I had noticed before, you see."
Select Museum Collections:
Museum of Modern Art, NYC
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
Whitney Museum, NYC
Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA
Norton Simon Museum, CA
Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MA
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
National Galleries of Scotland
Tate Gallery, London
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