Saturday, June 21, 2008

June 3-18, 2008

Ed Ruscha and Photography
Sylvia Wolf
10 cards

I saw Ed Ruscha 8 years ago at the Hirshorn where he gave a performance talk. I was intrigued by this man who spoke of Os and he definitely made me go, "huh?" The Believer interview a few years ago prompted me think about his use of words in new terms. Then luckily a series of his parking lots photographs this winter propelled me headlong into my new found fascination with his work and online talks (here and here) and serendipitously an exhibition of his photographs and books at the Art Institute. This is the catalogue for the exhibition, and a publication that explores a definitive and fascinating part of the artist's career. Sylvia Wolf takes great care in exploring this aspect of Ruscha's work. Ed Ruscha early on was interested in collage, adding yet one more layer to his brilliance.

Selections from the cards:
14- stamp collection
18 and 19- 2 early photographs
21- collage
25-Kurt Schwitters
24- Ross the rooster
25- "Distressing the print gave it added presence, as did pairing it with another like image."
45- photograph with the word WAR
48 and 49- wigs in windows
53- refrigerator photo
55- Yashica camera- "with a twin-lens reflex camera, there is an element of distance that makes taking pictures a private experience- detached from direct eye contact with a subject."
60- (office sign- Zurich) "The names of individuals and businesses etched in metal suggested a permanence of information, unlike the ever-changing plastic signage he knew from Los Angeles."
69- ER on not speaking a foreign language- "...tried to figure out what they meant, based on pure visual analysis."
-French affichistes
70- Cannes
78- The Artist's Shoes
79- "I was making observations but occasionally I got something beyond observation, where I might have uncovered something that I could use later on."
85- El Greco, View and Plan of Toledo, c. 1610
"I had this notion that maybe I could take some pictures of Toledo and somehow, at some point in the future, I could look back and say, 'Look at this. It's the same as it was in El Greco's time."
87- R. A. Bertilli, Continuous Profile of Mussolini, 1933
89- "[Europe] added the weight of history to the whole picture...When I got back, I had more inspiration for American culture."
95- " springs directly from life, with all its anguish.."
111- Duchamp's retrospective
115- Wallace Berman's Semina
-Rejected ad
122- reaction from gas station attendants
128- California- ER: " has to do with a collage in your mind of what this place is all about."
129- Some Los Angeles Apartments- "not the ideal home ownership that was the American dream"
144- Thirty four parking lots ER: "Those patterns and their abstract design quality mean nothing to me. I'll tell you what is more interesting: the oil droppings on the ground."
-"sociological approach to the urban landscape"
163- "The affluence and decay, opportunity and waste reflected in some of Ruscha's books and photographic worlds of the mid- to late 60s is characteristic of a volatile time in American history."
-"By singling out a word in his art, Ruscha makes its meaning ambiguous and invites a broad range of interpretations."
164- Records
-his collection of records- ER: "I wanted to chop a little piece of of my life and put it in a book."
169- Bernd and Hilla Becher
180- Mason Williams, "Creativity was a lifestyle, not something that was a separate activity, linked to any institution or movement."
184- 1970, installation Venice Biennale, Chocolate Room
187- (his books becoming familiar by 1972) "with the first one, people did not know what I was up to. There was genuine doubt in their minds. I liked that, the idea of the question mark..."
190- 5 Girlfriends ER: "going back and retracing steps that you went through as a person...part of a mapping idea."
194- materials
204- ER: "Excuses are what create art for me. I sometimes pick a random subject to make art. It doesn't have to be riveted to my soul as some valuable things. Sometimes it can be something ridiculous, and a lot of time it is."
240- collecting aerial photographs of LA
241- 5 photographs, edges of books, 2001
-"Photography is the medium best-suited to record the present, which, in the end, may be its allure for Ruscha."
-"Ruscha's curiosity about everything, "not just the interesting parts" is what drives him to seek inspiration in both high and low culture"

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