Ed Ruscha - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Wednesday, November 14, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galleria Il Gabbiano, Rome
    Private Collection, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Seoul, Gallery Seomi, Edward Ruscha, 1996
    Rome, Galleria Il Gabbiano, Edward Ruscha '90s, February 2001, no. 8, p. 26 (illustrated)

  • Literature

    Hal Foster, The First Pop Age: Painting and Subjectivity in the Art of Hamilton, Lichtenstein, Warhol, Richter, and Ruscha, Princeton, 2012, p. 243 (illustrated)
    Robert Dean and Lisa Turvey, Edward Ruscha: Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings, Volume 5: 1993-1997, New York, 2012, no. P1996.10, pp. 256-57 (illustrated, p. 257)

  • Catalogue Essay

    "I don't have any Seine River like Monet. I just have U.S. 66 between Oklahoma and Los Angeles." Ed Ruscha

    Composed in a noir palette of stark black and cool white, Ed Ruscha’s Porch, 1996, immediately conjures the barren prairie landscape of 1930s America during the era known as The Dust Bowl. Rendered in Ruscha’s uniquely graphic brand of sfumato, the imagery in Porch delicately emerges from a gray haze as a bold silhouette, casting the familiar setting as a highly nostalgic, cinematic stage that is reminiscent of Dorothea Lange’s heartbreaking photographs of the catastrophic drought in the Southern Plains region of United States. These images would have been especially evocative for Ruscha as an Oklahoma native, and likely a key source of inspiration for Porch.

    Belonging to a 1996 series that depicts four paradigmatic porticos (the others being Doric, Ionic, and Palapa), and originally exhibited together that same year at Gallery Seomi in Seoul, Porch portrays the only uniquely American architecture of the group. Pared down to its basic geometric elements, yet nearly photographic in its implied detail, Ruscha’s scene is of a post extending vertically from a rectangular foundation, with a sharply triangular mass perched above and supported at an angle by a brace. In its most simplified form, the image of the porch is purely two-dimensional, yet the blurred edges of the bold edifice also allow the viewer to see the structure in an exaggerated, three-dimensional form.

    Ruscha’s inclusion of the uniquely American porch within this architectural series positions the structure alongside, and likens it to, the signifiers of classicism (Ionic and Doric) and the primitive (Palapa), equating them all in both function and form. This reference to civilization, past and present, is of central significance to Ruscha and is discernible in his most important works. Architecturally, Ruscha’s Standard Station compositions cast the Standard Oil gas station scene, rendered in exaggerated perspective, in a role similar to Porch, as the covered gas pumps are themselves another genre of the classic portico. Many of the artist’s most significant paintings, such as Los Angeles County Museum on Fire, 1965-68, similarly employ the classic architectural elements in a deeply foreboding narrative, and often with a particular focus on the portico.

    Speaking specifically of the present lot, Hal Foster eloquently describes the American porch as a symbol of the Western frontier and the American dream: “The vaunted exceptionalism of the United States - its democratic dream, its eternal future - was long staked on its western frontier, but in a cycle of paintings that stretch into the mid-1990s, Ruscha displays such tokens as silhouetted teepees, buffalos, and wagon trains headed for the night… This slow fade is perhaps most poignant in a 1996 painting of a lone post of a twilit porch: a staple shot in westerns (it could come from The Searchers, say), this picture appears in the midst of similar paintings of solitary Ionic and Doric columns as if to suggest that even as this post appears almost as classic as these columns, it seems almost as distant too- less a defiant marker, then, than a fragile relic” (Hal Foster, The First Pop Age: Painting and Subjectivity in the Art of Hamilton, Lichtenstein, Warhol, Richter, and Ruscha, Princeton, 2014, p. 240).

  • 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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signed and dated "Ed Ruscha 1996" on the reverse; further signed, titled and dated "EDWARD RUSCHA "PORCH" 1996" on the stretcher
acrylic on canvas
36 x 24 in. (91.5 x 61 cm.)
Painted in 1996.

$400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for $483,000

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 14 November 2018