press release

Gagosian Gallery Madison - New York

Gagosian Gallery is pleased to present "Ed Ruscha: Drawings."

"The mystery of Ed Ruscha's drawings begins with drawing itself, with its peculiar status in the history of Western art, where it has always occupied an equivocal position between the realms of objects and ideas." (Dave Hickey)

The exquisitely rendered drawings of West Coast maverick Ed Ruscha combine dramatic motifs - whether word or image--with rich and often surprising materials, from pastels, inks, graphite, dry pigments and acrylic paint to more unorthodox substances such as gunpowder, rose petals, onion juice, blood, and petroleum jelly. A recent American museum retrospective "Cotton Puffs, Q-Tips®, Smokes and Mirrors" traced the development of these thinking, speaking drawings in the artist's prodigious output over the last five decades.

In the wake of Ruscha's current museum exhibitions around the world, Gagosian Gallery has assembled an exhibition of rare drawings, including modest graphite sketches, the "Apartment House Tracings" (1965) and the "Blue Collar Series," as well as many other memorable individual works such as "Royal" (1967), "An Extremely Hostile Individual" (1977), "Century Sickness" (1984), "NO" (1992), and "Hope Out There" (2003).

Ed Ruscha's art defies easy categorization. He has recorded the shifting emblems of American life in the form of Hollywood logos and stylized gas stations. His choice of words and phrases mines the perpetual interplay between language as a physical thing and language as a transparent medium. Rendered in an infinite variety of typefaces and styles - from Gothic to Helvetica, from hand-drawn spooling scripts to letters that seem "poured" rather than inscribed on the paper - Ruscha's words have palpable physical presence. "They are almost not words," he remarks. "They are objects that become words."

Ed Ruscha was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1937 and studied painting, photography, and graphic design at the Chouinard Art Institute (now CalArts). He has exhibited extensively in major museums and galleries throughout the world, and represented the United States at the 2005 Biennale di Venezia. An exhibition of paintings is currently on view at the Museo Tamayo, Mexico City; a survey of his photographic work organized by Whitney Museum opened at the Jeu de Paume, Paris in January and will travel to the Kunsthaus Zurich and Museum Ludwig, Koeln later this year. Gagosian Gallery will publish Volume Three of the painting catalogue raisonné later this year. The catalogue raisonné of works on paper is in preparation.