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In 1956, Ed Ruscha and his high school buddy Mason WIlliams drove west from their Oklahoma City digs to discover the creative frontier that was pre-60's L.A. Williams famously went on to become a musician ("Classical Gas") and later a staff member of the famed Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, while Ruscha emerged as one of the most important modern artists of our generation.
In "Ed Ruscha: Road Tested," it is revealed that it was that same road trip that first formed the artist's fascination with the American highways and images from the road. Published as a companion piece for an exhibition at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, (organized earlier this year by Michael Auping) "Road Tested" is the first book that compiles and thematically connects Ruscha's work - from the original Royal (typewriter) Road Test to the many depictions of gas stations (including his most famous piece, "Standard Station on Fire") to the many self-published books Ruscha assembled in the mid-60s, like "Twenty Six Gas Stations", "Thirty Four Parking Lots" and our all-time favorite, "Every Building on the Sunset Strip: 1966."
Along the way, it becomes obvious that Ruscha's fascination with the road is second only to his well-known focus on wordplay as the basis for large swaths of his catalog. The second half of the book features great mid-period pieces in the graphic language motif where streets are used as backgrounds ("Talk Radio", "Ice Princess") or street names are specifically called out ("A Blvd. Called Sunset" and "La Brea, Sunset, Orange, De Longpre"). Like most exhibitions, there are a few omissions including "Tires" from the Archi-Props series, Honk and 1998's Speedo prints, but overall the collection holds together nicely as a topical exhibition and book.Read more ›
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