Ed Ruscha - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Wednesday, May 13, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Alexandre Iolas Gallery, New York
    Bob and Lynn Tobias
    Ikon Ltd., Contemporary Art, Santa Monica
    Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco

  • Literature

    L. Turvey, Edward Ruscha: Catalogue Raisonné of the Works on Paper, Volume 1: 1956-1976, Gagosian Gallery, New York & Yale University Press, New Haven, 2014, p. 284, D1971.21 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    "What I'm interested in is illustrating ideas."Ed Ruscha, 1970

    For Ed Ruscha, the late 1960’s and early 1970’s galvanized an exploration into new and inventive artistic mediums to put on paper. Ruscha investigated the use of gunpowder as seen in the present lot as well as other more foreign ingredients including egg-yolk, tulips, Vaseline and blood to in order to achieve his desired visual result. The present lot, executed in 1971 utilizes obsidian gunpowder and celestial pastel to achieve an overall soft and warm texture across the sheet. As the artist explains, “Whatever excursion there was into this alternative materials world probably came about because I was not totally satisfied with graphite [or] oil paint, so I happened to have by accident this little canister of gunpowder. I thought 'well that's a powder like charcoal, like graphite and why can't that be used?' And I experimented with it and I found that it offered things that other things didn't.”(E. Ruscha, speaking at Ed Ruscha: Making Sense of Modern Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, July 2004) Creating imagery on paper is Ruscha's foremost outlet for creative expression, the artist embraces "drawing as visual thinking" and has explained that the premeditated draftsmanship in executing a work on paper is what interests him most. (D. Petherbridge, The Primacy of Drawing: Histories and Theories of Practice, 2010, p. 18)As seen in the present lot, gunpowder offered Ruscha a smoky gray texture that permeates the pastel blue hue creating a subtle luxury to the paper. The word “FEE”, rendered in white loose sheets, floats in the center of the pictorial plane, swaying in an imaginary breeze. The lower quadrant of the composition is a silky, deep sky blue that dissipates into a darker tone as it recedes up and out of the picture plane. The horizontality of Ruscha’s gunpowder works on paper emphasizes the artists’ exposure to the visual signage that was cropping up around Los Angeles and the Fee serves as an excellent example of the artist’s absorption and re-interpretation of the West Coast’s visually, slogan based culture. Here, a constant reminder of impending bills and costs lingers like skywriting across the famed California horizon.

  • 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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Ο ◆20


gunpowder, pastel on paper
11 1/2 x 29 in. (29.2 x 73.7 cm)
Initialed and dated "E.R. 1971" lower left.

$250,000 - 350,000 

Sold for $389,000

Contact Specialist
Amanda Stoffel
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1261

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Evening Sale 14 May 2015 7pm