Hall Art Foundation
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Ed Ruscha
From 1 February 2023

The Hall Art Foundation is pleased to announce it now has an exhibition space in Palm Beach, Florida, located on historic Worth Avenue.

 

An exhibition by the internationally acclaimed American artist, Ed Ruscha, will inaugurate the space. The show begins with a group of Ruscha's seminal black-and-white photographs from 1962, and presents over a dozen paintings and works on paper that span five decades of his career.  Since the 1960s, Ruscha has explored the role of language in painting, drawing, photography, printmaking, and bookmaking by using the meaning and formal qualities of words as his principle subject matter. 

 

The gasoline station, a symbol of the American vernacular landscape, is perhaps Ruscha’s most iconic image. He began experimenting with the subject in his first artist's book, Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1963), which reproduces a series of banal photographs the artist took while driving on Route 66 between Los Angeles and his hometown of Oklahoma City, through Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Selected works (from 'Twenty-six Gasoline Stations') (1962) is a compilation of seven gelatin silver prints from the project. The photographs which are devoid of people and characterized by a frontal perspective and strong diagonals, document the utilitarian architecture dotting the American landscape.

 

In his earliest text drawings from the 1970s, such as America Has Three Climates: Cold Hot Moderate (1977), Ruscha employs a distinctive reverse-stenciling drawing technique. Placing individually cut out letters onto paper, Ruscha applies pigment around the letter shapes with unconventional tools such as cotton balls and Q-tips. The sheets are colored-in with pastel, dry pigment, as well as various organic and unconventional substances such as gunpowder, Pepto-Bismol, spinach, egg yolk and carrot juice. With a typography that is created using negative space rather than line, Ruscha’s letters are crisply defined against their grounds.

 

The words and phrases that Ruscha uses as his subjects are derived from American vernacular, advertising, and popular culture. Decontextualized from time and place, letters, words, and phrases take on a symbolic quality as Ruscha explores their formal qualities. In his series of ribbon words drawings, and in works such as Pig (1970) rendered in gunpowder and pastel, the letters P, I, and G take on a three-dimensional, architectural quality, creating an interplay between image and language. Ruscha has said “Sometimes I wonder whether I am painting pictures of words or whether I’m painting pictures with words.”


In many of his works, Ruscha also incorporates imagery iconic to American culture, such as gas stations, cityscapes, the Hollywood sign, the American flag, and archetypal landscapes.  In his series of “mirror paintings”, stylized and symmetrical mountain views are emblazoned with palindromes. In Deer Breed (2003), the landscape and the text create a double meaning, where the painting and its text mirror each other in a visual pun. The text itself is formatted in the artist’s own typeface, Boy Scout Utility Modern.

 

 

 

The Hall Art Foundation | Palm Beach is open seasonally, from November through May, weekdays from 10am – 5pm, by appointment only. Admission is free. To book a tour, please email pb@hallartfoundation.org.

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For more information and images, please contact the Foundation’s administrative office at info@hallartfoundation.org.

 

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Ed Ruscha
Selected works (from 'Twenty-six Gasoline Stations'), 1962, printed 1989
Gelatin silver print
Each: 19 x 23 in. (49 x 58 cm)
Hall Collection
© the artist

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Ed Ruscha
America Has Three Climates: Cold Hot Moderate, 1977
Pencil and pastel on Grumbacher paper
22-1/2 x 28-1/2 in. (57 x 72.5 cm)
Hall Collection
© the artist

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Ed Ruscha
Pig, 1970
Gunpowder and pastel on paper
14-1/2 x 23 in. (37 x 58.5 cm)
Hall Collection
© the artist

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Ed Ruscha
Deer Breed, 2003
Acrylic on canvas
64-1/2 x 72 in. (164 x 183 cm)
Hall Collection
© the artist