Special Collections’ fall exhibit will feature 16 books created by seminal Los Angeles artist Ed Ruscha from the early 1960s through the 1970s. Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1963) was Ruscha’s first book and became a pioneering example of a self-published, self-distributed book. Including 26 utilitarian black and white photographs of gas stations taken along Route 66, it helped establish a new paradigm for what became known as artists’ books, in opposition to the tradition of fine press, limited edition books or livres d’artistes. Ruscha also had his first solo exhibit in 1963, at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles. Also important to Ruscha that year was the first-ever Duchamp retrospective at the Pasadena Art Museum. Duchamp, Andy Warhol and the New York Pop Art scene, and Wallace Berman’s Semina publications all influenced Ed Ruscha during this early period.
Subsequent book works, Various Small Fires and Milk (1964), Some Los Angeles Apartments (1965), Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966), Thirtyfour Parking Lots in Los Angeles (1967), Nine Swimming Pools (1968), Babycakes with Weights (1970), Real Estate Opportunities (1970) A Few Palm Trees (1971), and Hard Light (1978) continue this detached, documentary style. Also on display are collaborative books completed with others, Royal Road Test (1967), Business Cards (1968), and Crackers (1969). These books influenced many artists, as well as photographers, so the exhibit also includes books from Sol LeWitt, John Baldessari and Chris Burden as examples. We present this exhibit to coincide with Southern California programs and exhibits relating to the Pacific Standard Time project, a Getty Research Institute initiative that focuses on postwar art in Los Angeles.
Ed Ruscha’s books in the exhibit are part of the Artists’ Books collection in Special Collections and Archives. The collection includes some 400+ books. The collection has three major foci: works by and about women; works that explore contemporary American politics; and works produced in Latin American countries. Other titles complement departmental collecting emphases (such as dance, regional and local history, and political pamphlets), or are particularly outstanding exemplars of the form that do not fall into the above categories. The collection includes almost all of Ed Ruscha’s early books, as well as many catalogs from various exhibits of Ruscha’s work and other book artists of that period.
For additional information contact: Steve MacLeod, Special Collections and Archives Public Services Librarian, firstname.lastname@example.org , (949) 824-4967.