He pulled elements from this mass-media vernacular to create his famous “word” paintings, which combine typography with abstract, atmospheric backgrounds.
By the 1960s and 1970s, his well-known images of the Twentieth Century Fox logo, gas stations, and other icons of American culture—as well as his association with the renowned Ferus Gallery group—had established him a leader in the West Coast Pop art movement.
I had some pretty good instructors there, but I think I learned more from the people I went to school with.
There was a competitive spirit going on there; I picked up on that and that seemed to really have an effect on me. And I had no TV so I didn’t know what Gunsmoke was—all these programs that were on the air, I never saw them.
Despite his resistance to the characterization, Ed Ruscha has a reputation as a quintessential Los Angeles artist.
So it’s not surprising that a new documentary short about his career is narrated by a Hollywood star.
In “Ed Ruscha: Buildings and Words,” actor Owen Wilson chronicles the artist’s six decades of making bold Pop paintings, photographs, books, and prints influenced by the sun-drenched architecture and signage of the American West.
Written and directed by Felipe Lima and commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the just-over-seven-minute video juxtaposes archival footage from Ruscha’s life with a mini retrospective of his work, from his painting of the word “jelly” spelled out in jelly to photographs of flaming gas stations.
“Given his long history with SFMOMA and his exceptional knowledge of and great influence in the art world, his input will be invaluable as we dramatically expand to become an international showcase for the best in contemporary culture.” Of his appointment, Ruscha says, “Assuming a role on SFMOMA’s board at this vital time in the institution’s history promises to be an exceptionally rewarding experience. A complete list of SFMOMA’s Board is available online.
For those who dismiss Ruscha’s work as shticky or don’t get what the onomatopoeic “OOF” in big yellow letters on a blue background is doing at Mo MA, the documentary makes a strong case for the artist’s irreverent style and conceptual depth.
“I think he came from a different place,” says artist Ed Moses in the film.
But didn’t Chouinard still have that kind of aspect of being connected with Walt Disney?
So your intention was still perhaps to learn about more commercial work in the beginning, but then perhaps the scene kind of took over in your thinking?