Flies and Frog (1969)
ED RUSCHA (1937-)
Coloured lithograph; Signed and dated 1969 lower right and numbered 18/40
Newly-framed in polished aluminium as pictured
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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 colour. 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.
Ruscha is represented by 33 of his works in the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art owns 25 Ruscha paintings, works on paper, and photographs; and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden has 21 Ruschas in its permanent collection.
In 2009, Ruscha’s I Think I’ll… (1983) from the collection of the National Gallery was installed at the White House. In 2010, during British prime minister David Cameron’s first visit to Washington, President Barack Obama presented him with a signed two-colour lithograph by Ruscha, Column With Speed Lines (2003), chosen for its red, white and blue colours. Obama gave Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott a similar lithograph during his visit to the White House in 2014. In the same year, Ruscha’s Screaming in Spanish (2013) was installed in the entry hall of the residence of the US Ambassador to Spain in Madrid.