When Ed Ruscha launched his career from LA during the 1960s and ‘70s, he offered New York tastemakers, loathe to embrace outliers, entry into an exotic world: a luminous land of swimming pools, strip malls, freeways and dingbat apartments — symbolized by the Hollywood sign looming over debauched vistas. Addressing the dystopian otherness of LA, Ruscha, shown in the exhibition catalog clad in a western bow tie and cowboy hat, did little to dissuade those who would make him a symbol of it. The organizers of this survey, Ed Ruscha and the Great American West, have, apparently, done just that. While Ruscha took much inspiration from the Southwest and is indeed a leading West Coast proponent of Pop Art, this man-of-the-West premise shortchanges his work and our experience of it, sidestepping the fact that the artist never looked north of Malibu to places like San Francisco and the Gold Country where equally potent myths were manufactured.
The entire article can be found here: http://www.squarecylinder.com/2016/09/ed-ruscha-de-young. Ed Ruscha and the Great American West is on display at de Young until October 9, 2016.
Image: Ed Ruscha, “Standard Station”, 1966. Color screenprint, 25 5/8 x 40 in. Published by Audrey Sabol, Villanova, PA. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, Mrs. Paul L. Wattis Fund, 2000.131.5.1 ©Ed Ruscha