Ed Ruscha - Contemporary Art Part I New York Thursday, May 17, 2007 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Leo Castelli Gallery, New York; Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris; Private collection, Paris; Collection Lang Fine Art, New York; Galerie Haas & Fuchs, Berlin

  • Exhibited

    Santa Monica, Ikon Ltd./Kay Richards Contemporary Art, Ed Ruscha: Paintings, Drawings and Prints, 2004

  • Literature

    R. Dean and E. Wright, Edward Ruscha Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings Volume Two: 1071-1982, New York, 2005, cat. no. P1982.20, pp. 418-419 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    In the present lot, The Major and the Minor, from 1982, Ed Ruscha references his previous floating object paintings of the late 1960s and early 1970s by isolating floating stars in front of a vast backdrop of dark black sky. His conscious use of the five-pointed star (rather than representing them as dots as they appear to our naked eye), transparently alludes to the shape of the stars used on Hollywood Boulevard to commemorate film celebrities. Ruscha’s city of choice seems to be cleverly referenced and possibly keys the viewer into the location of the painting’s original source. In The Major and the Minor the artist capitalizes on the absence of text, uncertainty of location, time, or human presence, imbuing the painting with a sense of quiet serenity in which the viewer appreciates the vastness of the sky and enormity of the subject undertaken.

    Ruscha’s series of constellation paintings created in the early 1980s set the stage for his literal approach to representational landscapes, sunsets and scenery that helped define his iconic style, bestowing a rise in popularity of the American west and Southern California in our popular culture. For the artist, these works were also an investigation into his curiosity of the system of mapping and topography. In total the artist created five of these alluring and stunning works.

  • Artist Biography

    Ed Ruscha

    American • 1937

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

    His most iconic works are at turns 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 postwar America.

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The Major and the Minor

Oil on canvas.
62 x 90 in. (157.5 x 228.6 cm).
Signed and dated “Ed Ruscha 1982” on the reverse.

$500,000 - 700,000 

Contemporary Art Part I

17 May 2007
7pm New York