Ed Ruscha - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Monday, November 11, 2013 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist

  • Exhibited

    San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Works of Ed Ruscha, March 25 – May 30, 1982, then traveled to New York, Whitney Museum of American Art (July 8 – September 5, 1982), Vancouver, Vancouver Art Gallery (October 4 – November 28, 1982), San Antonio, The San Antonio Museum of Art (December 27, 1982 – February 20, 1983), Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (March 17 – May 15, 1983)

  • Literature

    D. Hickey & P. Plagens, The Works of Edward Ruscha, New York: Hudson Hills Press, 1982, p. 72 (illustrated)
    R. Dean & E. Wright, Edward Ruscha: Catalogue Raisonnéof the Paintings; Volume Two: 1971 – 1982, New York: Gagosian Gallery, 2005, p. 86-87 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    “I like the idea of a word becoming a picture, almost leaving its body then coming back and becoming a word again.”

    – Ed Ruscha, 1998

    For over fifty years, Ed Ruscha has gleaned his artistic materials from the words and phrases that surround him. His longtime home of Los Angeles has supplied him with endless verbal resources, from billboards to talk radio. Ruscha explains that “some [words] are found ready-made, some are dreams, some come from newspapers….I don’t stand in front of a blank canvas waiting for inspiration.” (R. Marshall, Ed Ruscha, New York, 2003, p. 160) Ruscha frees words from their anchors and sets them adrift. As Ruscha states, “I began to see books and book design, typo­graphy, as a real inspiration. So I got a job with a book printer. He taught me how to set type, and then I started to see the beauty of typography and letter-forms.” (Edward Ruscha in conversation with Martin Gayford, The Telegraph, September 2009) His training in graphic design is evident in his strategic placement of the words on the canvas as well as his choice of color, font and backdrop. Through these moves, Ruscha’s words are imparted with meanings, often holding multiple connotations simultaneously. In the present work, the phrase “Angry People” is written in small black lettering and the spacing of the letters is reminiscent of the all too familiar eye charts presented to a patient at the optometrist’s office. The mint green color seen at the lower quadrant of the canvas darkens as the words seem to drift back into space, much the way the credits roll off the screen at the end of a film, lending the work a cinematic finale.

    Viewers will have conventional associations with aspects of the work—its font, the color green, the word “angry”—and Ruscha is compelling the viewer to reconsider all of his preconceived notions. In Rushcha’s words, “I love the language, words have temperatures…when they reach a certain point and become hot words they appeal to me.” (O. Bergrruen, The Drawn Word, Florida, 2003, n.p.)

  • 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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Angry People

oil on canvas
20 x 24 in. (50.8 x 61 cm.)
Signed, dedicated and dated "Edward Ruscha 1973 For Ulrike" on the reverse.

$600,000 - 800,000 

Sold for $845,000

Contact Specialist
Zach Miner
Head of Evening Sale
+1 212 940 1256

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York 11 November 2013 7PM