Despite being credited with a Pop sensibility, Ed Ruscha defies categorization with his diverse output of photographic books and tongue-in-cheek photo-collages, paintings, and drawings. Ruscha’s work is inspired by the ironies and idiosyncrasies of life in Los Angeles, which he often conveys by placing glib words and phrases from colloquial and consumerist usage atop photographic images or fields of color. Known for painting and drawing with unusual materials such as gunpowder, blood, and Pepto Bismol, Ruscha draws attention to the deterioration of language and the pervasive cliches in pop culture, illustrated by his iconic 1979 painting I Don’t Want No Retro Spective. “You see this badly done on purpose, but the badly-done-on-purpose thing was done so well that it just becomes, let’s say, profound,” he once said. Equally renowned were his photographic books, in which he transferred the deadpan Pop style into series of images of LA—apartments, palm trees, or Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1962), his most famous work.
American, b. 1937, Omaha, Nebraska, based in Los Angeles, California