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Ed Ruscha Smash, 1963
Born 1937

Ed Ruscha

Born on December 16, 1937, Edward (Ed) Joseph Ruscha IV is most closely associated with the pop art movement. This American-born artist has produced work in a variety of different mediums, making him one of the most diverse, and most successful, of his generation.


Throughout the years, Ed Ruscha has enjoyed great success as a painter, but he is also well known for his printmaking talents. From painting to prints, Ed Ruscha has created stunning works of art, and the results of his efforts are displayed throughout the world.


Ed Ruscha is also well known for his achievements in the fields of drawing, photography and even film. Unlike many of his pop art contemporaries, Ed Ruscha has strayed far afield, exploring all manner of artistic expressions and creating memorable works of art.


He may be a successful artist and a standard bearer of the pop art movement, but Ed Ruscha's roots are thoroughly American and thoroughly Midwestern. Born in the heart of farm country in Omaha, Nebraska, Ed Ruscha shared a home with his older sister Shelvy and his younger brother Paul. His father worked as an auditor for the Hartford Insurance Company, an iconic Midwestern company and a major employer in the area.


Although not an artist herself, Ed Ruscha's mother was always supportive of her son and his budding artistic talents. Those talents were evident early on, when young Ed Ruscha showed an interest in, and an aptitude for, cartooning. Ed continued drawing cartoons throughout his teenage years, drawing raves from his peers and kudos from teachers and fellow artists.


After spending much of his young life in Oklahoma City, Ed Ruscha moved to Los Angeles in 1956. Once in L.A. Ed embarked on an academic career at the famous Chouinard Art Institute. That school would later be renamed as the California Institute of the Arts.


While at Chouinard, Ed Ruscha studied under both Robert Irwin and Emerson Woilffer, and also served as producer and editor for a journal known as "Orb", roles he shared with a number of his associates.


Once school was over, Ed Ruscha traveled extensively through Europe, and later worked at the Carson-Roberts Advertising Agency, where he worked as a layout artist.


By the beginning of the 1960s, Ed Ruscha had already developed a strong reputation as a painter, and he was well known for his excellent collage work and photography as well. Mr. Ruscha was also closely associated with the prestigious Ferus Gallery Group, whose other members included John Altoon, Robert Irwin, John McCracken, Ken Price and Larry Ball among others.


Throughout his career, Ed Ruscha earned a great deal of recognition for works that incorporated both words and phrases, a technique that was typical of the pop art of the day. Ed Ruscha was also known for his unique photograph books, many of which showed the irreverent humor most closely associated with the beat generation. In fact, many art critics and historians have noted that Ed Ruscha's works combine pop art sensibilities and the longings of the best beat generation poets.


As his career evolved, the influences of others in the art world became more apparent in Ed Ruscha's work. Ed Ruscha has often noted that Jasper Johns was a particularly influential artist during his young life. When Ruscha encountered Target with Four Faces, by a then unknown Jasper Johns, he was immediately struck by its unique style and unprecedented maturity. Ed Ruscha was transfixed by the works of the other artist, and the influence of Jasper Johns nad his contemporaries is clearly evident in Ruscha's work.


Ed Ruscha was also influenced by a number of other contemporary artists, including John McLaughlin, H.C. Westermann and Arthur Dove, as well as the cutting-edge creations of Marcel Duchamp and Robert Rauschenberg. The mystery of Duchamp is clearly evident in Ed Ruscha's work, and the artist has often noted that great art has an air of mystery to it.


The influence of Los Angeles is clearly evident in Ed Ruscha's work as well, perhaps most notably in his collection titled "Every Building on the Sunset Strip". Published in 1966, this well-named book showcases a series of continuous photographs and features a 2-1/2 mile of the famous Sunset Strip.


Ed Ruscha is also justifiably famous for his other Los Angeles landscape pieces, including works like 1962's Large Trademark, 1966's Standard Station, and 1982's Hollywood. These works have gone on to influence a whole new generation of urban artists, including Brazilian photographer Vik Muniz, whose own take on California car culture is quite well known.


After a long and successful career, Ed Ruscha is still busy producing fine works of art in painting, drawing, prints, photographs and filmic elements. He currently lives and works in California.

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