Ed Ruscha / Now Then: A Retrospective

Type: Book

Spanning 65 years of Ed Ruscha's remarkable career and mirroring his own cross-disciplinary approach, Ed Ruscha / Now Then features over 250 objects, produced from 1958 to the present, including paintings, drawings, prints, films, photographs, artist's books and installations. Published to accompany the most comprehensive presentation of the artist's work to date, and his first solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, this richly illustrated catalog highlights Ruscha's most acclaimed works alongside lesser-known aspects of his practice.
Essays by an interdisciplinary group of contributors examine Ruscha's work under a new light, beyond the categories of Pop and Conceptual art with which he has traditionally been associated, to present fresh perspectives on one of the most influential figures in postwar American art. Taken together, they underscore Ruscha's singular contributions, including his material exploration of language, experiments with unconventional mediums--such as gunpowder, chocolate or chewing tobacco--and his groundbreaking self-published books. Supplemented by an illustrated chronology and exhibition history, this publication captures the ceaseless reinvention that has defined his prolific, six-decade career.

Ed Ruscha (born 1937) was raised in Oklahoma City and moved to Los Angeles in 1956, where he attended the Chouinard Art Institute (now CalArts). First showing with the Ferus Gallery in the early 1960s, Ruscha was included in Walter Hopps' landmark Pop art show New Painting of Common Objects at the Pasadena Art Museum in 1962. He has since shown his work extensively, most recently in several medium-specific museum surveys, including the 2004 exhibition Cotton Puffs, Q-Tips(R), Smoke and Mirrors: The Drawings of Ed Ruscha at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, which traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, and the 2009 exhibition Ed Ruscha: Fifty Years of Painting at the Hayward Gallery, London, which traveled to the Haus der Kunst, Munich, and Moderna Museet, Stockholm. In 2005, he represented the United States at the 51st Venice Biennale. Ruscha lives and works in Los Angeles.

340 pages

The keen observations and careful execution of these paintings speak to a maniacal tendency in America toward anger, billboards that are empty of sentences but have plenty to say. Jerry Saltz New York Magazine: Vulture

Think of Ruscha's oeuvre as a bizarre, decades-long bit about failures to communicate. It's the contemporary-art equivalent to "Who's on First?" an extended gag in which meaning slips between words like oil running across water. Alex Greenberger ARTnews

Ed Ruscha, intrepid explorer of language and image, prefigured a digital culture of words on the move. A retrospective at MoMA shines new light on his groundbreaking career: the books, the paintings, the room made of chocolate. Jason Farago The New York Times: Arts

The schemas of many of Ruscha's drawings and paintings establish his idealization of how information could be conveyed in a flash. David Platzker Artforum

The most comprehensive survey to date of the artist's six-decade career. Roberta Smith The New York Times: Arts

As this survey shows, Ruscha grew out of the temptation to such polarizing jibing to become the finely sharpened commentator in his work that both the State of the Union and artworld, as a whole, deserve. McGlynn Tom Brooklyn Rail

There is very little in it not to like. Anyone can connect to a picture with no fixed meaning; like the dual-action exhibition title, every Ruscha is a two-way street. Yablonsky Linda The Art Newspaper

If you think you hate conceptual art, see this show. Chances are you hate bad conceptual art. Ruscha made drawings using gunpowder and paintings of maple syrup and beans, but few image-makers have so rarely lapsed into gimmickry, and even fewer have got such consistent laughs. Arn Jackson New Yorker

The excellent catalog to the exhibition features a revealing cover...Could there be a more succinct introduction to Ruscha's six decades of exceptional art? Christopher Knight Los Angeles Times

Giving viewers an encounter with something that may not mean anything at all, or be a concept that is so overdetermined as to be impermeable, these are parts of art too - parts that Ruscha excels at like few others. Veronica Esposito Guardian

Just about everything that Mr. Ruscha has ever put his hand to is--radically and conventionally at the same time--simply very good-looking. Peter Plagens Wall Street Journal

Sassy, reverent, diffident, disarming: an unprecedented survey of the artist's career is an enticement into looking at the unremarkable. Susan Tallman New York Review of Books