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Edward Ruscha

Hollywood

1968 Medium: Screenprint

1968
Medium: Screenprint
Sheet size: 17 1/2 x 44 3/8 inches

Frame dimensions: 21 1/2 x 49 5/8 inches
Printer and publisher: the Artist
Catalogue raisonné: Engberg 7
Edition size: 100 + proofs
Signed, dated, and numbered in pencil, lower margin

 

 

Price Upon Request

1968 Medium: Screenprint

1968
Medium: Screenprint
Sheet size: 17 1/2 x 44 3/8 inches

Frame dimensions: 21 1/2 x 49 5/8 inches
Printer and publisher: the Artist
Catalogue raisonné: Engberg 7
Edition size: 100 + proofs
Signed, dated, and numbered in pencil, lower margin

 

 

Price Upon Request

Description

As a high school student in Oklahoma City, Ed Ruscha was struck by images of Dada and Surrealist objects in library books, interested in their unusual approaches to viewing the world. After graduating, he drove Route 66 to Los Angeles, where he found the metropolis to be a readymade landscape subject. In 1960, graduating Chouinard Art Institute, he worked in graphic design, layout, and sign painting to finance his art production.

Ruscha rented a studio on Western Avenue with a view of the Hollywood Hills and their eponymous sign. While setting type and printing books, he noted “words have no size” and wanted to explore that idea. He was among a group of artists moving beyond Abstract Expressionist and Minimalist art, saying, “common objects had more appeal to me than throwing paint at a canvas.” The Hollywood sign is such a mutable object. The word "Hollywood" first appeared in his work in 1968. The print evokes a film still of the industry's famous sign. The panorama of the work may allude to the narrow aspect ratio of the Panavision film lens that created wide angle shots without distortion.

This print, his first Hollywood print, introduced its subject in an edition the artist printed and published on his own. He later revisited the subject during a fellowship at Tamarind Lithography Workshop and even later at Cirrus Editions. It is a now-famous case of how he probes another capacity of words – emptied to become form, they double back to signify. He moves the letters uphill to the ridge, unlike the real landscape, foreshortened to blend into the sunset. The eye follows them toward the receding light, liberating the syllabic triptych Hol-ly-wood from rote left to right reading.

The screenprint was a significant milestone for Ruscha, flying solo with techniques learned from a professional printer during the production of his 1967 screenprints titled Standard Station. Printing eight colors using four screens, Ruscha rotated: commercial split-fountain ink, layering yellow, orange, purple and mauve; then flat dark brown; followed by split fountain brown and yellow, then flat yellow. His edition conjures how sun departs at day’s end, sky and land luminous with smog and light particles that tint them in brilliant hues.

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