1937, Nebraska, United States
Ed Ruscha is a Pop artist who defies categorization with his diverse output of photographic books and tongue-in-cheek photo-collages, paintings, and drawings. Ruscha was born in Nebraska and moved to Los Angeles in 1956 to study at the Chouinard Art Institute, intending to become a commercial artist.
Quickly recognized in the 1960s as an important representative of the thriving Pop Art movement and a successor of the Beat Generation for his collages and text-based pieces, Ruscha’s work was exhibited at the Ferus, Leo Castelli, and Gagosian Galleries. As a painter, drawer, and filmmaker, Ruscha has been heavily influenced by the city of Los Angeles and by his initial interest in graphic arts, incorporating text and urban, as well as Western, landscapes into his work. Ruscha comments on myths of American Romanticism, commercial culture, and urban life in humorous and ironic pieces. He sometimes uses unusual media in his work, including fruit and vegetable juices, blood, gunpowder, and grass stains, in works such as his Stains series. In the 1980s, his style became more mystical, as he worked with rays of light, constellations, and other celestial themes. Ruscha is best known for his witty and enigmatic use of text in his paintings, which he continues to incorporate into his works today.
He has held several retrospectives in New York, Washington, D.C., London, Paris, and Munich and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2001.