Ed Ruscha (b. 1937, Omaha, Nebraska) is known for a body of work that is incredibly diverse in its use of media, including painting, drawing, print, photography, and film, among other less categorical experiments such as artist’s books. The highly graphic, illustrational aesthetic, and often ironic language-based content of his work has become iconic of West Coast Pop art.
Raised largely in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Ruscha relocated to Los Angeles, in 1956 to attend the Chouinard Art Institute (now Cal Arts). Although widely recognized as an American Pop artist, he contributed greatly to the development of Conceptual art, and precursors to his work can be traced to Abstract Expressionism, Dadaism, and Surrealism. The most iconic works by Ruscha are his paintings and works on paper that feature language, which employ calligraphic techniques and sardonic, even glib text. In many ways these text-based works act as a critique of pop culture, canon, and semantics itself. Their inspiration is drawn from more accessible sources than the high art of museums and other major institutions, such as comic strips, commercial advertising, and typography.
Ruscha’s stylistic technique of combining high and low media and inspiration, and his striking visual design aesthetic, have made his works incredibly popular. Numerous museums and collections worldwide have acquired his work, including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Tate Modern, London; and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.