The Ransom Center presents the exhibition “Ed Ruscha: Archaeology and Romance” from Aug. 11, 2018, through Jan. 6, 2019. [Read more…] about Ed Ruscha: Archaeology and Romance
Since coming to the Ransom Center in 2008, Margie Rine has significantly contributed to the Center’s development efforts. [Read more…] about Meet the Staff: Q&A with Director of Development Margie Rine
The Edward Ruscha Papers and Art Collection at the Harry Ransom Center includes preliminary layout sheets for Hard Light, a collaborative artist’s book published by Ruscha and Lawrence Weiner in 1978. [Read more…] about Ransom Center conservator treats preliminary layouts for Ed Ruscha’s Hard Light
Visitors to the Ransom Center may now experience the creative work and process of artist Edward Ruscha first hand. The materials in the Edward Ruscha papers and art collection, which opens today, cover a selection of works from the 1960s to the present, and include research material, notebooks, sketches, photographic material, publicity and exhibition material, and final editions for Ruscha’s artist’s books, prints, films, and commissioned works.
Project archivist Anne Kofmehl is cataloging the Edward Ruscha papers and art collection, which the Ransom Center acquired in 2013 and which opens January 20. Kofmehl writes about an interesting photograph she came across while organizing the collection. [Read more…] about Ed Ruscha and the mysterious Rocky II
Ed Ruscha’s Twentysix Gasoline Stations, a thin paperback that resembles an industrial manual of the 1960s, is often considered to be the first modern artist’s book. The book is exactly what the title describes: 26 images of gasoline stations along Route 66 between Los Angeles and Oklahoma City.
Born in Omaha, Nebraska, and raised in Oklahoma City, Ruscha was living and working in Los Angeles in the 1960s and frequently traveled the route between the two cities to visit his family.
“I just had a personal connection to that span of mileage between Oklahoma and California,” Ruscha told NPR earlier this year on the 50th anniversary of the book. “It just, it kind of spoke to me.”
In an interview with Avalanche magazine in 1973 he said, “I’d always wanted to make a book of some kind. When I was in Oklahoma I got a brainstorm in the middle of the night to do this little book called Twentysix Gasoline Stations. I knew the title. I knew it would be photographs of twenty-six gasoline stations.”
So, Ruscha documented gas stations along that route in black-and-white photographs and labeled them with their locations, from “Texaco, Sunset Strip, Los Angeles” to “‘Flying A, Kingman, Arizona” to the final image “Fina, Groom, Texas.”
Ruscha published the book at age 26 in a run of 400 numbered copies in April 1963. Though it was the same year as Ruscha’s first solo exhibition at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, the book didn’t initially receive a warm reception. In a 1963 letter, the Library of Congress declined to add a copy to their collection, noting the book’s “unorthodox form and supposed lack of information.”
The book gradually acquired cult status in the 1960s, and a second edition was published in 1967 and a third in 1969. Surviving first editions of the book are rare.
Ruscha’s archive, which was recently acquired by the Ransom Center, includes snapshots of the gas stations, Ruscha’s notes about the project, the Library of Congress letter, and an advertisement with the headline “REJECTED Oct. 2, 1963 by the Library of Congress.”