Ed Ruscha - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale Hong Kong Saturday, May 27, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Gagosian Gallery, New York
    Private Collection, London
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    "What I'm interested in is illustrating ideas."
    - Ed Ruscha

    Ed Ruscha’s text-based works have revolutionised the relationship between the visual and the semiotic. Ruscha fully embraced the visual culture of Los Angeles, making him a leading figure in the early emergence of the West Coast scene. Inspired by the text based works of fellow artists Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, Ruscha has pursued a lifelong artistic exploration into the formal elements of printed text and its fluid relationship to the visual image. The present lot, The 1990s, embodies Ruscha’s mature style and is a splendid and imposing composition that fully represents the artist’s determined mastery of colour and form. By culling words, images and phrases that have been imprinted in his memory and that are found in mass media (print culture, advertising billboards, etc.), his work often serves as a visual encyclopedia of American culture and its syntax and symbology.

    This distinct genesis in print media heavily influenced Ruscha’s eventual aesthetic. In his pieces, words are given a physical voice, and their evocative potential fully realised in clashes between the banal and the majestic. Many of his paintings find a single word or phrase recontextualised in suggestive interplay with typeface and background. “I like the idea of a word becoming a picture, almost leaving its body, then coming back and becoming a word again.” (Ed Ruscha, quoted in a lecture at the Getty Centre in Los Angeles, July 17, 1988; quoted in Clive Phillpot and Siri Engberg, Ed Ruscha: Editions 1962 - 1999, Volume 2, Minneapolis, 1999, p. 14) As such, Ruscha has pioneered the notion of words as visual abstractions, inducing a physical reaction based on their chosen hue, typography or context.

  • Artist Biography

    Ed Ruscha

    American • 1937

    Ed Ruscha is an Los Angeles-based artist whose art, like California itself, is both geographically rooted and a metaphor for an American state of mind. A deft creator of photography, film, painting, drawing, prints and artist books, Ruscha has executed works for over 60 years that are simultaneously unexpected and familiar, both ironic and sincere.

    His most iconic works are poetic and deadpan, epigrammatic text with nods to advertising copy, juxtaposed with imagery that is either cinematic and sublime or seemingly wry documentary. Whether the subject is his iconic Standard Gas Station or the Hollywood Sign, a parking lot or highway, his works are a distillation of American idealism, echoing the expansive Western landscape and optimism unique to the post-war world.

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Property of an Important European Collector


The 1990s

signed and dated 'Ed Ruscha 2000' lower right of margin
dry pigment and acrylic on paper
sheet: 58 x 73 cm (22 7/8 x 28 3/4 in.)
Executed in 2000, this work will be included in a forthcoming volume of Edward Ruscha: Catalogue Raisonné of the Works on Paper, edited by Lisa Turvey.

HK$1,500,000 - 2,500,000 

Sold for HK$1,250,000

Contact Specialist
Jonathan Crockett
Deputy Chairman, Asia and Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Asia
+852 2318 2023

Sandy Ma
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+852 2318 2025

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20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 28 May 2017