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They Called Her Styrene, Etc. Hardcover – January 10, 2000

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They Called Her Styrene, Etc. + Ed Ruscha: Fifty Years of Painting + Ed Ruscha's Los Angeles
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1 pages
  • Publisher: Phaidon Press; First Edition edition (January 10, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0714840114
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714840116
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 2.3 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #285,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


'Ambiguous, often hilarious and with no narrative to explain their presence, the words become objects or landscapes all to themselves.' (V magazine) '... The size and shape of a small, thick block - perfect for stocking-stuffing.' (New York Magazine)

About the Author

Ed Ruscha was born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1937 and moved to Los Angeles in 1956, excited by the newness, mobility and freedom represented by the southern Californian landscape. He studied commercial art at the Chouinard Art Institute (now CalArts) in Los Angeles from 1956 to 1960. Ruscha began making prints and drawings consisting of one word on an often monochromatic, abstract background in the late 1950s. Since then his work has been characterized by the exploration of language-based imagery. Ruscha's style is characterized by deadpan wit and cool understatement, which were developed further in his language-based prints and paintings that mark an axis between audacious Pop Art and introspective Conceptualism. In the early 1970s, Ruscha began working with Cirrus Editions and Cirrus Gallery in Los Angeles, pursuing his interest in liquid words, unconventional ink substances (including chocolate, Pepto Bismol and caviar) and trompe l'oeil imagery. Throughout his career Ruscha has worked in a wide range of media - photography, graphic design, painting, drawing, printmaking and film. Ruscha's work continues to be exhibited at museums and galleries around the world.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Dylan Parenti on October 31, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Funny, but it seems as though every time a new Ed Ruscha book gets released, it then becomes the standard "must-have" edition. In my opinion, this is an excellent book for the price, even if only for a single viewing. What I mean is this: it's more like an object than a book, due to its small area (but thick volume), and lack of publisher information distraction - the absolute first page blatently plunges you into the art immediately. It will take the average art fan a good two hours alone viewing each plate at a contemplative pace. I have had two art shows myself, and Ed's work is by far my closest influence, so I am heavily biased. This book lacks the token interview with the artist, and also his other forms of work (notably the parking lot photography series, which is a sheer delight in its own right), but for the sake of the design, perhaps the book as it is says all it has to say (no pun intended, if you're familiar with his works). Part of the fun, though, with viewing these kinds of Ed's works, is reading his titles and materials used, as they are equally insightful; yes, I miss that. But the average or novice art buff wouldn't even notice it missing. All things considered, this is a great little form of entertainment all contemporary art lovers should own.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ron Silliman on May 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Bob Perelman was thumbing through my copy of Ed Ruscha's They Call Her Styrene (Phaidon, 2000) the other evening, which raises the question of intermedia from another angle. Ruscha, if you don't know his work, is a painter and photographer associated with the 1960s Los Angeles scene that proved to be an intersection between Pop, Funk and Conceptual art. His work takes different forms, but Styrene is representative of the works that have most attracted me: prints, drawings and watercolors involving anything from a single word to short phrases, often against backgrounds that are close to monochromatic but which may suggest a picturesque element. Styrene collects some 600 of these works into a single, affordable volume - I've seen individual paintings priced as high as $45,000. My question is this: fine as they are as visual works of art, are Ed Ruscha's text pieces also writing?

Ruscha himself has a cryptic, but intriguing comment right at the end of the book: "Sometimes found words are the most pure because they have nothing to do with you. I take things as I find them. A lot of these things come from the noise of everyday life." End of comment.

So far as I know, Ruscha has not undertaken to publish these works as writing, nor in the context of writing. As visual art, these works inhabit that territory that utilizes language for its own purposes. Its closest kin in that vein may be the signage of Jenny Holzer, the paintings of Lawrence Weiner, or the poster paintings of Barbara Krueger, but the more densely textual pseudo-philosophical musings of Joseph Kosuth and Art Language aren't entirely unrelated either.
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17 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Brett Sutton on December 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
My adventures with They Called Her Styrene began on a subway ride in Boston earlier this month. I saw an older woman flipping through a book, each page containting a picture with a few words written on it. I started looking with her as as she flipped through it. She flipped through it for about 20 minutes, and then my stop was next. I was worried I would never know the title of this book, and, being too shy to ask, would leave the train and be unsatisfied. Luckily, just as the train stopped, she closed the book and I saw the title.
I bought it shortly afterwards.
I already described it- it's a book of pictures with words across them. I enjoy it very much. As you sit and thumb through all of the pages, each word or group of words, combined with the colors on the background, conjur all sorts of thought and feelings inside you.
For me, it serves very well to just sit and thumb through it, looking at all the pictures and letting my mind wander as the book prescribes.
Its wonderful.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Luis G. P. Davidson on March 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I gave this one to a friend who never heard of Ruscha before. He loved it. It's a little unpretentious experience through Ruscha's world. It's not that kind of 7-colour-printed-on-coated-expensive-paper, but works very well as good entertainment and a valid introduction to west coast fine artists. Worth its price.
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