Ed Ruscha is a pivotal American artist associated both with Pop Art and Conceptualism. His wide-ranging practice spans over painting, drawing, printmaking and photography, capturing the essence of the West Coast and the American landscape through clever combinations of text, colour and image.

Beginnings

Born in 1937 in Omaha, Nebraska, Edward Joseph Ruscha IV grew up in Oklahoma City before venturing to the West Coast. The imagery and landscape of the California remained influential for the rest of his life and his artistic practice, as he says:

‘As a child, [California] just threw romance in my face. The sunsets, the glamorous aspects of things, sunshine, speedy cars. The culture was different than where I came from in Oklahoma… and so it had a strong effect on me and that started it all up.’

He studied graphic design and advertising at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles while working as a sign painter. He started exploring painting around this time, particularly inspired by Pop artist and Neo-Dadaist Jasper Johns. After graduating he took a job in commercial advertising – the visual language of his training fed into his later paintings and print, such as playing with text, typography and depicting everyday subjects.

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