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Ed Ruscha's Los Angeles
  • Alternative view 1 of Ed Ruscha's Los Angeles
  • Alternative view 2 of Ed Ruscha's Los Angeles
     

Ed Ruscha's Los Angeles

by Alexandra Schwartz
 

Ed Ruscha was born in Nebraska and raised in Oklahoma, but he belongs to Los Angeles in a way that few other artists do. Since the 1960s, Ruscha's iconic images of the cityscape and culture of Los Angeles — freeway gas stations, parking lots, palm trees, motels, swimming pools, and billboards — have both reflected and shaped popular perceptions of

Overview

Ed Ruscha was born in Nebraska and raised in Oklahoma, but he belongs to Los Angeles in a way that few other artists do. Since the 1960s, Ruscha's iconic images of the cityscape and culture of Los Angeles — freeway gas stations, parking lots, palm trees, motels, swimming pools, and billboards — have both reflected and shaped popular perceptions of Hollywood and the city that surrounds it.

In Ed Ruscha's Los Angeles, Alexandra Schwartz views Ruscha's groundbreaking early work as a window onto the radically shifting cultural and political landscape in which it was produced. Schwartz examines Ruscha's diverse body of work, including paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, books, and films, and discusses his relationship with other artists — including John Altoon, Ed Kienholz, Billy Al Bengston, and Dennis Hopper, all of them associated with the famous Ferus Gallery — with whom he sparked the movement known as West Coast pop. She also explores his links to the mainstream film industry, then evolving into the experimental New Hollywood of the late 1960s and early 1970s; his association with emerging discourse on L.A. architecture and urbanism; and his participation in the politics of the L.A. art world, where his presentation and self-marketing reflected contemporary attitudes toward gender, race, and class.

Despite Ruscha's fame, this is the first comprehensive critical consideration of his art, and the first to consider it in the context of L.A.'s tumultuous 1960s and 1970s. It shows how Ruscha, borrowing from and critiquing the methods and myths of Hollywood, forged a new paradigm of the artist as a popular culture scribe — a soothsayer for the entertainment age.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
If Schwartz’s book of four essays has a unifying theme, it is to highlight the self-fashioning that has dominated both Hollywood and Los Angeles artists like Ruscha. The book ranges across pop art, film, masculinity, feminist art, Dennis Hopper’s filmmaking, and Los Angeles’s urban landscape (a.k.a. art’s “second city”). Schwartz (who has edited a collection of Ruscha’s writings) says that her book is “the first critical study to foreground the place of Ruscha’s work within the social and cultural history of 1960s Los Angeles,” and, indeed, her essay on gender roles and gender fashioning reveals much about how artistic identities are forged in the City of Angels. As for Ruscha, Schwartz roots his curious brand of hyper-masculinity in “anxiety about women—or, put somewhat differently, gender and sexuality.”Given its critical sensibilities, the book may appeal more to academic readers than a general audience. Photos. (Apr.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780262013642
Publisher:
MIT Press
Publication date:
03/31/2010
Pages:
326
Product dimensions:
4.50(w) x 7.30(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

Catherine Grenier
Alexandra Schwartz's very articulate and very precise book on Ed Ruscha's life and work reveals a Ruscha overflowing with insight into the history of modern art and the masters of the avant-garde. The relationship between mass culture and underground culture is explored to great affect. Los Angeles freedom and the richness characterized by Ruscha's work make this book the definitive starting point for further appreciations of California Cool.

Lynn Zelevansky
Ed Ruscha's Los Angeles is particularly valuable in it's exploration of Ruscha's relationship to Hollywood and influence on late 20th century architectural theory. It's a good read, and should be of interest to anyone concerned with the cultural history of Southern California.

From the Publisher

"Ed Ruscha's Los Angeles is particularly valuable in its exploration of
Ruscha's relationship to Hollywood and influence on late-twentieth-century architectural theory. It's a good read, and should be of interest to anyone concerned with the cultural history of Southern California." Lynn Zelevansky, Henry
J. Heinz II Director, Carnegie Museum of Art

Meet the Author

Alexandra Schwartz is the editor of a collection of Ed Ruscha's writings, Leave Any Information at the Signal: Writings, Interviews, Bits, Pages (MIT Press, 2002) and the coeditor of Individuals: Women Artists in the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art.

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