Ed Ruscha's Pop Art blends high and low culture with bold text, slogans, and American landscapes for visually striking works. If you’re looking for original Ed Ruscha prints and editions for sale or would like to sell, request a complimentary valuation and browse our network’s most in-demand works.

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Combining text, colour, and image to unique effect, Ed Ruscha’s artworks often engage with the American landscape. Saturated with the ironies of US consumer culture, the artist’s work recreates a variety of bold, hard-edged, and resolutely ‘all American’ iconographies, repurposing them as a means for social comment.

Born in Omaha, Nebraska, in America’s mid-West, Ruscha showed an interest in art from an early age, collecting stamps and coins for their bold, graphic composition.

At 18, Ruscha and a friend embarked on a road trip, eventually ending up in Los Angeles. Establishing himself in the Californian city, Ruscha enrolled at Chouinard Art Institute, where he studied under American installation artist Robert W. Irwin, and Abstract Expressionist painter, Emerson Woelffer. Upon graduation, Ruscha started work as a layout artist in the art department of a Los Angeles advertising agency.

A rare exception in art history, Ruscha’s early works were very well received and allowed the artist’s career to take off rapidly. In 1962, a number of Ruscha’s text-based works, which drew heavily from his background in advertising, were chosen by collector Walter Hopps for the ‘New Painting Of Common Objects’ exhibition at California’s Pasadena Art Museum. At the exhibition, Ruscha displayed works like his OOF (1962) alongside those of Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol and became the youngest artist to be associated with the nascent Pop Art scene. This exhibition cemented Ruscha’s status as one of America’s most ground-breaking artists.

In 1963, Ruscha created his beloved artist book, Twentysix Gasoline Stations. Having moved to Los Angeles, Ruscha would often visit his parents in his native Oklahoma City, making the almost 1,400-mile-long journey alone in his car. Along the way, the service stations that punctuated Ruscha’s journey stood out to him for their minimal, streamlined architecture. The geometric apartment buildings of Los Angeles were next to catch Ruscha’s attention. In 1965, he published a collection of photographs depicting these blocky architectural forms, entitled Some Los Angeles Apartments.

Fascinated with the reproducibility of prefabricated American architecture, Ruscha began to paint some of his photographs. He went on to produce works such as the perspective-bending Standard Station (1966), which has since become a widely recognised symbol of contemporary American visual culture and the ultimate Ed Ruscha artwork. Since then, Ruscha reworked and reproduced many times that particular gas station, located on the outskirts of Amarillo, Texas, as in his 1969 screen print, Double Standard.

Painting by Ed Ruscha of the word 'radio' in bold yellow lettering against a blue background. The letters 'r' and 'o' are distorted as they are clamped.

Image © Christie's / Hurting The Word Radio 2 © Ed Ruscha 1964

1. £40.9M for Ed Ruscha's Hurting The Word Radio No.2 (1964)

In November of 2019, Hurting The Word Radio No. 2 (1964) became the most expensive work of art by ex-commercial artist and central figure of the American Pop Art movement, Ed Ruscha (pronounced roo-shay). 

It realised an astonishing US$52,485,000 at Christie’s New York. An early example of Ruscha’s text-based paintings, the record-breaking piece sets the word ‘RADIO’ against a bright blue background. Despite its concern with bold, simple text, the piece’s rendering of this word is far from simple. Distorting (‘hurting’) it with a pair of vices, Ruscha constricts and twists the text, providing his own unique take on the visually arresting iconographies of American consumer capitalism.

Painting by Ed Ruscha depicting the word 'BOSS' in capitalised, simplistic, bold orange lettering against a dark blue background. There is a clamp on the final letter 's', distorting the shape of the letter.

Image © Christie's / Securing The Last Letter (Boss) © Ed Ruscha 1964

2. £27.7M for Ed Ruscha's Securing The Last Letter (Boss) (1964)

In November 2023, in Sotheby’s New York, Ruscha’s 1964 painting Securing The Last Letter (Boss), became the second highest price fetched by the artist. The artwork sold for a remarkable $39,400,500 (£32,053,095). With a hammer price of $34million (£27,659,680), the piece exceeded its estimated value of $35-40 million.

In Securing The Last Letter (Boss), Ruscha juxtaposes the word ‘BOSS’ in vivid orange against a deep navy background, dramatically altering its final letter with a C-clamp. This artwork exemplifies Ruscha's exploration of language's physicality, blending Pop Art and conceptualism with a unique graphic intensity. Part of a crucial series during Ruscha's early career, this painting is one of the rare instances where he incorporates the clamp motif, signifying its importance within his body of work and underscoring its esteemed provenance and collection history.

Painting by Ed Ruscha, depicting the word 'smash' in yellow lettering against a navy blue background.

Image © Christie's / Smash © Ed Ruscha 1963

3. £19.2M for Ed Ruscha's Smash (1963)

In November 2014, a 1963 work by commercial artist and foremost member of the US Pop Art movement, Ed Ruscha, broke a record. Entitled Smash, Ruscha's artwork realised US$30,405,000 at Christie’s auction house in New York. An early example of the artist’s text paintings, it is emblazoned with the word ‘SMASH’, and references the bold, typographic basis of American commercial advertising of the 1950s and 60s. In doing so, it is imbued with Ruscha’s own origins as a member of the art department at a major Los Angeles advertising agency.

Painting of the word 'Annie' by Ed Ruscha in red lettering with a black outline. The background is yellow in the top half and blue in the bottom half.

Image © Christie's / Annie © Ed Ruscha 1962

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