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"Ed Ruscha" Tag

Text in silence

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ed Ruscha is an artist who mainly works with text. His works have been assigned to pop art at the start of his career. As pop artists put common objects into images, such as, advertisements, magazine, cartoon, Ed Ruscha started his career by dealing with so called typical images and texts. Soon he began to focus on text.

For more information about a brief introduction about the artist (Click!)

When I faced his works for the first time, I thought that meaning of text must be influential on his works regardless the artist’s intention because text is tremendously powerful. At the same time, a question was raised about his approach to text. What is more, I also realized that some of Ed Ruscha’s works has a similarity with a Korean conceptual artist Yi-so Bahc’s one. So, this essay will explore some of Ed Ruscha’s methods to handle his subject by both investigating a couple of his paintings and comparing to Yi-so Bahc’s ones.
A change in dealing with subject
Ed Ruscha did not intend to convey messages but wanted for viewers to enjoy text itself as an image. To achieve his purpose, it was important for the artist to make viewers experience his point. In fact, his earlier works were relatively illustrative and expository. For instance, in ‘20th century fox’, relatively many imagery elements – such as the angle that the text was drawn or the horizontal thrust – were provided to explain what the artist would like to mention about the text directly.

Ed Ruscha, "Large Trademark with Eight Spotlights", 1962. Whitney Museum N.Y.

However, Ed Ruscha has kept trying to reveal a text itself in his paintings and minimize other unnecessary elements. He has eliminated illustrative elements from his paintings, and at some points, only a vague background and a text were remained.

Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, "Voice", oil on canvas 16 H x 20 W (inches) 1968

An artist who keeps silent
Ed Ruscha once said at an interview, “Words are pattern-like, and in their horizontality they answer my investigation into landscape. They’re almost not words – they are objects that become words.”As he commented, he sees words as objects. However, suggesting text as an object must be arduous. How can it be possible to force viewers not to read words but see them as an object though it is natural to read text? Although I doubted, the result is successful. Explaining with an example of my experience, when I looked at his paintings, I have completed viewing a painting by reading words on it and kept reading another words on the next painting.
By the way, even though I thought that I was reading text, there was a strange aspect that I could not remember the text I had ‘read’. I merely could remember an image which consisted of an uncertain background and text in the middle of the image as if I recall a painting. That is because the text in Ed Ruscha’s paintings keeps silent and did not convey any information like the text in newspapers. It can be clarified by comparing with Yi-so Bahc’s drawing as this reaction is the opposite of that of Yi-so Bahc’s case. Following is Yi-so Bahc’s drawing showing an installation for the phrase, ‘We are Happy’. Yi-so Bahc’s work encourages viewers have a question, “Are we really happy?” Furthermore, viewers remember they have seen a message rather than a drawing. In Yi-so Bahc’s case, the text conveys a message and does not exist as text itself. In other words, each drawing of each artist shows text in common, yet viewers’ reactions are clearly different.

Yi-so Bahc

Yi-so Bahc, "We are Happy", 21x30cm 2004

To achieve Ed Ruscha’s goal of enjoying text as an image, he took a position of being objective. That means, he strictly eliminated unnecessary or descriptive elements. Then the artist entrusted enjoyment of his works to viewers. There is another comparable example of works from the two artists which deals with stains in common. In Yi-so Bahc’s work, which titled as ‘A long story’, the artist dropped artificial tears on a spot of a paper one thousand times repeatedly, and an invisible stain remains on the paper. Tears usually implies something emotional reaction and encourages to imagine that an important event happened. Also, the title has a role that helps viewers to approach the artist’s thought. Yi-so Bahc utilised elements that he dealt with to emphasise his message, and consequently, the message in the work is strengthened by all of the elements.
On the contrary, in Ed Ruscha’s case, he collected various kinds of stains then made a book. He titled the book as ‘Stains’. The artist collected various images repeatedly and categorized them as stains. Every stain was treated as a mere stain itself, and no other explanation was given why the artist did that work. What is more, the title indicates repetitively the content of the book-stains. Ed Ruscha commented like following. “It’s nothing more than a training manual for people who want to know about things like that.” and “I think with Stains there was no latitude for any kind of manipulation of the image. In other words, the stains were exactly what they were stated to be. They were like little droplets in the middle of a piece of paper; there’s no gestural opportunity, no opportunity to do anything else besides simply dropping the liquid on the paper… I didn’t want it to look like art. I wanted it to look like a stain.”The artist merely introduced his work as ‘stains’, and viewers should explore what they are looking at themselves.

Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, "Stains", Portfolio of 75 mixed-media stains on paper, 1969

As the artist followed manners which is used in objective investigations, such as, a biologist gathers specimens, Ed Ruscha does not suggest his opinion directly, but exposes objects.
Ed Ruscha keeps this style through most of his works. The artist’s message is hidden or unclear, while his subjects reveal themselves as an object. This style sometimes can causes a trouble that viewers cannot acquire any clue to understand his work at all. However, it is obvious that his style is efficient and proper to implement his subject firmly. As mentioned in the beginning, I was curious about Ed Ruscha’s approach to text as I have dealt with text as a material and thought about how to develop it. So it was entertaining to know that his works are controlled not to be swept away by the meaning of the text as my work did not either. Furthermore, his works were supposed to be enjoyable for the artist as a sort of play experimenting with text and other elements. The Rietveld Library just aquired a beautifull book about Ruscha’s latest self curated exhibit in the KunstHaus-Bregenz. This book show his latest work and also all his famous books

*Works Cited from "Ed Ruscha" by Richard D. Marshall [Phaidon]. Recommended reading also: Cotton Puffs, Q-Tips, Smoke and Mirrors: The Drawings of Ed Ruscha


the information man

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Project based on a story told by American artist Ed Ruscha in an interview in NY Times 1972. Experiments inspired by this story were conducted and filmed. Project by Christopher West and Alban Schelbert [click image for movie]

Quoting graphic designer Julia Born from ‘Capsule over Kunst boeken’…

The information Man is an interesting story of artist Ed Ruscha, who tries to imagine what happens or has happend with his books. It deals with the live of a book. How it is used (or not), the book as an object etc…… This is what I always find interesting. The book as mass product, which starts to lead an individual life due to its distribution, changing its appearance too. I used this story for an assignment once and later it became the theme of the book ‘Beauty and the Book‘ resulting in a visual essay in coöperation with photographer Johannes Schwartz

A group’s researched book-concepts

Monday, March 10, 2008

TM-City SMCS Warhol_Index TM-City SMCS

After many month we finally present the research results into 25 selected books from the “Collections Groenendijk”. During a one-hour event every student was presented with the opportunity to start-up a research into the manifest art or design concepts presented in these unique book designs. Designers Julia Born and Will Holder were presented through an interview-DVD made by the graduate program of the “Werkplaats Typografie Arnhem” for the Chaumont festival workshop 2005. Others projects, by Richard Niessen or Andy Warhol, were presented at an visit to the Stedelijk CS, where their books were displayed in context. Coralie Vogelaar (a Sandberg Master) came to visit us in person to give insight in her work and ideas and lecture on the concept behind her latest publication “Masters of Rietveld: design in the 21st Century” published recently by the Sandberg Insitute /Design [above: Niessen TM-City / Warhol Index-Book

A New Art World
Caetano de Carvalho on “A New Art World” by Richard Niessen + Ad de Jong

Research material was edited down to A4 sized guided tours into these subjects. All subjects presented in this list are also available as hard copy prints at the Research Folders at the library. The investigation focussed on the following book titles: Ed van der Elsken’s “Love Story in St Germain“, Irma Boom’s Grafisch Nederland 2005 on Color, “Start A New Art World”(published above), the acclaimed cooperation between photographer Geert van Kesteren and designer Linda van Deursen “Why Mister Why“, “Hhalo” by Julia Born and Rebecca Stephany’s “Archiving Today”project. Last 3 ladies all teaching at graphic design department.

SpoerrieThe ThingThe Thing Norm design Swiss TypeS M L XL

Daniel Spoerrie “An Anecdoted Topography of Chance“(extra info), Dieter Roth’s “Dieter Roth Band 10“, “S M L XL“by Koolhaas, Sandbergs “Experimenta Typographica“: Mens Sana in Corpore Sano and “Counterprint” by Karel Martens. “The Thing” by Norm designstudio, Andy Warhols classic 1967 “Index-Book”, Will Holder’s “Catalogue“: starring Gijs Muller, Edward Ruscha’s “Colored Peolple”, Richard Niessen’s piece de résistance TM-City.

Why Mister Why GN2005:Color

Sandberg Institute Master: Coralie Vogelaar with “The Photoshop” and “De Hedendaagse Ontwerper”, Gerald van der Kaap’s original ” HoverHover” and the monumental cooperation between Jonathan Barnbrook and Damien Hirst “I want to spend the rest of my life everywhere, with everyone, one to one, always, forever, now”.

Dot Dot Dot X Hester Permanent Food 15

Finaly some highly conceptual magazine concepts like, the 1980’s I-D magazine 2, Jop van Bennekom with Re-magazine: ‘Hester‘, Permanent Food or Stuart Bailey’s “Dot Dot Dot” magazine.

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