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.
Image © Christie's / Hurting The Word Radio 2 © Ed Ruscha 1964
In November of 2019, Hurting The Word Radio No. 2 (1964) became the most expensive work of art by ex-commercial artist and foremost proponent of the American Pop Art movement, Ed Ruscha (pronounced roo-shay).
It realised an astonishing US$52.4 million at Christie’s New York, an early example of Rusha’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; ‘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 in the process.
Image © Christie's / Smash © Ed Ruscha 1963
In November 2014, a 1963 work by onetime commercial artist and foremost member of the US Pop Art movement, Ed Ruscha, broke a record. Entitled Smash, the artwork realised US$30,405,000 at Christie’s auction house in New York, becoming the 2nd most expensive Ruscha piece of all time. An early example of the artist’s text paintings, it is emblazoned with the words ‘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.
Image © Christie's / Annie © Ed Ruscha 1966
Annie is one of American Pop Artist Ed Ruscha’s most iconic works. On the 10th July 2020 it realised an enormous US$22,975,000 at auction at Christie’s New York, making it Ruscha’s 3rd most expensive work to-date. Annie showcases the painterly origins of another of Ruscha’s later works, Annie, Poured From Maple Syrup (1966), a mixed-media piece that once graced the walls of the Norton Simon museum in Ruscha’s adoptive home of California. An early work – and turning point – in Ruscha’s œuvre, Annie recreates the logo of American comic strip, Annie (1962). According the simple text a monumental stature, the work measures nearly six feet in height.
Cold Beer Beautiful Girls © Ed Ruscha 1993