ED RUSCHA AND THE GREAT AMERICAN WEST

99 works of Ed Ruscha and the Great American West reveal the artist’s engagement with the American West and its starring role in our national mythology.
The exclusive exhibition at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco celebrates the career of one of the world’s most influential and critically acclaimed artists.

STATION 2003 - Ruscha created a number of sequels to his 1960s series of Standard station images roughly fifty years later.

STATION 2003 - Ruscha created a number of sequels to his 1960s series of Standard station images roughly fifty years later.

In 1956, at the age of 18, Ed Ruscha left his home in Oklahoma and drove a 1950 Ford sedan to Los Angeles, where he hoped to attend art school. His trip roughly followed the fabled Route 66 through the Southwest, which featured many of the sights—auto repair shops, billboards, and long stretches of roadway punctuated by telephone poles—that would provide him with artistic subjects for decades to come. 

America's Future 1979 - The title of this painting might be Ruscha's clever reference to the American historical themes of Manifest Destiny and westward expansionism, but it more likely alludes to his own journey as a mid-twentieth-century settler. It is certainly emblematic of his first trip west as an adult in 1956, seeking future in California.

America's Future 1979 - The title of this painting might be Ruscha's clever reference to the American historical themes of Manifest Destiny and westward expansionism, but it more likely alludes to his own journey as a mid-twentieth-century settler. It is certainly emblematic of his first trip west as an adult in 1956, seeking future in California.

Nine sections reveal Ruscha’s fascination with the evolving landscape and iconic character of the “Great American West” in symbolic, evocative, and ironic renditions. These include works that depict gasoline stations, long an important element of Ruscha’s work, as well as others that comment on Los Angeles and the film industry, such as his famous “Technicolor” images of the Hollywood sign. The exhibition also includes works in which a word or phrase is the sole subject, often depicted in a variety of forms that simulate poured liquids, cut ribbons, or spray paint.

WHAT IS OUT THERE - Billboards and signs amid tumbleweeds, roadside debris, discarded trash, and flat tires confront the long-distance traveler in Ruscha's American West.

WHAT IS OUT THERE - Billboards and signs amid tumbleweeds, roadside debris, discarded trash, and flat tires confront the long-distance traveler in Ruscha's American West.

Ruscha continues to work steadily at the age of 78, and this exhibition includes prints made as recently as 2015. He maintains a studio in the California desert and makes regular road trips through the spare and evocative landscapes that first inspired him as a young man. Ruscha has now worked in California for more than 50 years, and this exhibition celebrates his long commitment to exploring the American west as both romantic concept and modern reality.

BUFFALO 1989 - The buffalo seen in profile in this painting is both familiar and uniquely American for its appearance on the so-called buffalo nickel, a widely circulated coin that was minted between 1913 and 1938.

BUFFALO 1989 - The buffalo seen in profile in this painting is both familiar and uniquely American for its appearance on the so-called buffalo nickel, a widely circulated coin that was minted between 1913 and 1938.

THE END - Two words --"the end" -- have been the subject in some of Ruscha's paintings, drawings, and prints from the last two decades. Presented in a Gothic type familiar from film endings, they are most often placed against blurred, scratched backgrounds as if part of the projection of the final credits of a movie.

THE END - Two words --"the end" -- have been the subject in some of Ruscha's paintings, drawings, and prints from the last two decades. Presented in a Gothic type familiar from film endings, they are most often placed against blurred, scratched backgrounds as if part of the projection of the final credits of a movie.

Exhibition runs from July 16th,2016 through October 9th,2016 at Fine Art Museum of San Francisco.