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Ed Ruscha

Artist Factory


was born in Omaha, Nebraska, USA, in 1937.

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Ed Ruscha is an American artist who creates “word paintings” and artist’s books. An important part of his work is based on observations of natural and urban landscapes, which he captures on canvas or with his camera.

In 1956, Ed Ruscha moved to California to study graphic design in Los Angeles. After graduation, Ed started working for advertising agencies, which further refined his special flair for graphic design.

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Ed Ruscha, Not Only Securing the Last Letter But Damaging It as Well (Boss), 1964, UAB 373aus der Sammlung Brandhorst

Ed Ruscha

Not Only Securing the Last Letter but Damaging It as Well (Boss), 1964

In his “word-paintings,” Ed Ruscha paints a particular word that interests him, or a saying. He is attracted to monosyllabic words from comics because they make him think of a noise or a crash. He endows the appearance of the letters with very special qualities, so they sometimes look old or new, used up or fresh, soft and fluid or hard and solid.

Ed Ruscha does not often talk about the meanings of his works. He wants viewers to make up their own minds. One thing is very important to him, he says: “I am dead serious about being nonsensical.” 

Ed Ruscha was one of the first to produce books that were art in their own right. California also played a role here. In his first artist’s book “Twentysix Gasoline Stations” (1963), Ed gathered photographs of gas stations taken during a drive on Route 66 from Los Angeles to Oklahoma City, to visit his parents.

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Ed Ruscha *1937, Really Old, 2016, UAB1082aus der Sammlung Brandhorst

Ed Ruscha

Really Old, 2016

As a child, Ed lived in Oklahoma, which is located far inland in the United States. At the time, California was a place of longing for him: sunsets, the coast, and the feeling of freedom when driving through the landscape by car.