Ed Ruscha's Los Angeles

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 ...

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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 JohnAltoon, Ed Kienholz, Billy Al Bengston, and Dennis Hopper, all of them associated with the famousFerus 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 late1960s 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.

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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.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262013642
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/2010
  • Pages: 326
  • Sales rank: 1,443,832
  • Product dimensions: 4.50 (w) x 7.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

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

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