Ed Ruscha was born on December 16, 1937 in Omaha, NE. His family was Roman Catholic, and he had an older sister, Shelby, and a younger brother, Paul. Ed Ruscha’s parents were working class, and his dad worked as an auditor for Hartford Insurance Company. From an early age, his parents supported his artistic talents and vision, and they encouraged his interest in the subject. In his younger years, Ruscha was especially interested in cartooning, and he fostered this interest throughout his teenage years and adolescence.
Although he was born in Omaha, Ruscha spent much of his life living in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He later moved to Los Angeles in the mid 1950s, where he spent his time studying at the Chouinard Art Institute, an institution that now goes by the name of the California Institute of the Arts. Here, he studied and learned under Robert Irwin and Emerson Woelffer between the years of 1956 and 1960. During his years at Chouinard Art Institute, Ed Ruscha spent his time producing and editing the journal “Orb”, along with several of his colleagues, including Jerry McMillan, Joe Goode, Emerson Woelffer, Stephan von Huene, and others. Upon graduating from Chouinard, Ed Ruscha took some time for himself to travel through Europe (most of the summer of 1961, so be exact), and then accepted a position at a Los Angeles based advertising agency, at the Carson Roberts Advertising Agency, where he worked in design as a layout artist.
It did not take long for Ed Ruscha to become well known and easily recognized for his works and contributions to collages, paintings and photographs, as well as his close association with the Ferus Gallery group, consisting of several other contemporary artists, including John Altoon, John McCracken, Larry Bell, Ken Price, and more. He then went on to work at the famed Artforum Magazine as a layout designer, using only the pseudonym Eddie Russia. He worked here from 1965 until 1969. Also in 1969, he taught as a guest professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, in printing and drawing.
Ruscha gained fame and notoriety for his unique photographic books, as well as his paintings and artwork that incorporated both words and writing. Regardless of which medium he was working in, all of Ruscha’s works show the patented irreverence that is classic and typical of the pop art movement. His works are most commonly and closely associated with both the pop art movement and the beat generation.
Ed Ruscha Artwork
Similar to other pop artists, including Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, Ed Ruscha’s work is deeply rooted in the commercial art genre. As such, he produced numerous word paintings and visual art. Additionally, he dabbled in surrealism and worked with other unusual — some would even say strange — media, including gunpowder, red wine, vinyl, fruit juice, and more. He also worked on a stark contrast to his usual pieces with pastel works focusing on light.
In addition to his other work and commissioned pieces, Ruscha also produced a variety of small artist’s books and other notable book projects:
- Twentysix Gasoline Stations, 1962
- Various Small Fires, 1964
- Some Los Angeles Apartments, 1965
- Every Building on the Sunset Strip, 1966
- Thirtyfour Parking Lots, 1967
- Royal Road Test, 1967 (with Mason Williams and Patrick Blackwell)
- Business Cards, 1968 (with Billy Al Bengston)
- Nine Swimming Pools and a Broken Glass, 1968
- Crackers, 1969 (with Mason Williams)
- Real Estate Opportunities, 1970
- Babycakes with Weights, 1970
- A Few Palm Trees, 1971
- Records, 1971
- Dutch Details, 1971
- Colored People, 1972
- Hard Light, 1978 (with Lawrence Weiner)
- Country Cityscapes, 2001
- ME and THE, 2002
- Ed Ruscha and Photography, 2004 (with Sylvia Wolf)
- OH / NO, 2008
- Dirty Baby, 2010 (with Nels Cline and David Breskin)
About Hamilton-Selway Fine Art
Since opening its doors nearly two decades ago, Hamilton-Selway Fine Art has continued to be one of the largest and most successful purveyors of pop art and contemporary art on the entire west coast. Our philosophy is straightforward and simple — we strive to provide our clients with the best artwork at the best possible price point. Whether you are a novice art collector or a serious art enthusiast, we would love the opportunity to help you find your next piece.
We also boast a unique niche in this market, and one that makes us feel as if we stand out. Unlike other art galleries or dealers, we have a huge inventory of art on hand. What does this mean for you? Well, it means that we have greater control and flexibility in offering artwork to our clients. Rather than simply acting as a middle man, we have more control over what you are able to purchase — and the price that you will pay for it, making the experience more rewarding and satisfying for you.
Whether you are searching for your favorite pop art prints or a larger piece of art, we would love the opportunity to help you find it. Give us a call or stop by to see us to get started today!