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Louisiana Museum of Modern Art exhibits works by Ed Ruscha from the UBS Art Collection
Ed Ruscha, Year After Year, 1973. Gunpowder on paper, 57,15 x 72,39 cm. UBS Art Collection © Ed Ruscha. Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian.

HUMLEBAEK.- Ed Ruscha is unconditionally the hero of the artists. The exhibition VERY offers the Danish public the opportunity to get a better impression of the now 80-year-old American master’s work. In 2015 Louisiana showed an overview of the British artist Lucian Freud’s prints, also from the UBS Art Collection. The same is true of this first exhibition in Denmark of Ed Ruscha’s art.

The works from the collection, comprised of drawings and prints, provide not only a general introduction to Ruscha’s art, but also insight into his sometimes radical approach to materials – for example the use of gunpowder and organic fluids. Moreover, the exhibition presents the artist’s legendary artist books, which are a part of Louisiana’s collection.

For six decades Ed Ruscha (b. 1937) has explored the notion that in the familiar and recognizable one may also find the unusual and thought-provoking. Objects, words and thoughts, none of which appear to be too large or too small, are included as ingredients in his life’s work along with an underplayed humour that stands out from the contemporary Pop Art on the New York scene around artists like Warhol and Lichtenstein.

As a very young man Ruscha came to Los Angeles from Oklahoma City – by car, of course. And it is not with the perspective and scale of New York that we experience the world in his works. In them we often find a distinctive spatial extension that is associated with the panoramic view from the car windshield, just as his artist books unfold sequentially but without a classic narrative. His pictures revolve around Los Angeles, the vast flat city, and the desert, the mountains and the sky around it. They also show specific places and names, but the works are sustained as much by more conceptual images of the American West Coast in a distinctive mix of American heartland, Hollywood hedonism and a less fraught version of modern life than the one that typifies the art of New York.

With roots back in the avant-gardes of the twentieth century – especially Dada and Russian Constructivism – Ruscha has incorporated advertising slogans, gas stations, typographies and linguistic idioms in his work as cultural history in which the coexistence of words and images constantly stimu¬lates our desire for meaning. Although from around 1960 on Ruscha, in his handling of techniques and materials, has clearly concentrated his interest on craftsmanship, as a supplier of images of the fluid and relational existence of things, he is at the same time fascinatingly close to the digital image culture of our time.

In the catalogue of the exhibition, the American artist George Condo writes about the awareness-enhancing potential in Ruscha’s art: “His ability to pass images and words through the chocolate grinder and have them come out as grape juice has been as influential on modern day thinking as the difference between versailles and the standard oil station”.

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