January 22, 2024
Ed Ruscha and his buildings
The tagline of the magazine in question, Popular Western, was “Complete Quick-Trigger Stories,” which could apply to Ruscha’s photographs but not to his paintings. Even his silliest paintings are stately and brooding, often to a fault. The character of the brooding evolved over time. If the later paintings are—often but not always to their detriment—more explicit about our world on fire, the ’60s work prioritizes pleasure: the laid-back loops of the gas pump hoses, the blocky, confident reds, the crisp fluorescents, and the light and shadow on the glass façade provide little indication of the crises to come.