Among Ed Ruscha’s inventive, witty series are his sensuous Romance with Liquids paintings and drawings of the mid-late 1960s. Look closely at two of these works and you’ll see artists’ palettes emerge from the puddling droplets.
In Michael Blackwood’s 2004 film Ed Ruscha: 4 Decades, the artist toured an exhibition of his work at MoCA in Los Angeles with curator Margit Rowell, and paused in front of two of the pieces.
He pointed to “Grapes,” one of his earliest gunpowder drawings. “See the artist’s palette here?”
He then turned to “Pool.”
“And let’s see – and here’s another.”
Margit Rowell: “So this is the old tongue-in-cheek Ed Ruscha?”
ER: “I didn’t realize it until after I looked at it.”
MR: “Oh, come on. Are you sure?”
ER: “Yeah. I don’t believe I created that on purpose. But that was a long time ago, so who knows?”1
It’s easy to imagine Ruscha inserting this shopworn symbol of Fine Art into his irreverent gunpowder drawings.
He returned to the palette shape – this time a smoky, glowing form – in 1988.
Artist: Edward Ruscha (1937- )
Ruscha (prounounced Roo-SHAY) is particularly known for his paintings, drawings, and prints that feature text, but his work explores a wide range of subjects and includes photography, books, and film. Elements of Conceptual art, Abstract Expressionism, Dadaism, West Coast Pop, and Surrealism are apparent in Ruscha’s art.
Material: Gunpowder with erasures on wove paper
Size: 58.3 cm x 73.7 cm. (22 15/16 in. x 29 in.)
Location: Philadelphia Museum of Art
Ed Ruscha: Buildings & Words. Directed by Felipe Lima. Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art. 2016.
Ed Ruscha: 4 Decades. Directed by Michael Blackwood. New York: Michael Blackwood Productions, Inc. 2004.
Gagosian Gallery – Ed Ruscha
Tate Gallery – Edward Ruscha
- Ed Ruscha: 4 Decades, directed by Michael Blackwood.