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Fine Art PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Ed Ruscha: Fifty Years of Painting at Moderna Museet

Ed Ruscha, born in 1937, is an icon of modern art and exceedingly prolific to this day. His paintings are ambiguous and provocative, recycling scraps from popular culture and redefining established genres. Is he one of the first pop artists, a trail-blazer of conceptual art, a late surrealist, a pioneer of postmodernism, or a bit of everything, all rolled into one? Exhibition open through 5 September 2010.

Ed Ruscha, “Large Trademark with Eight Spotlights”, 1962. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. ©Ed Ruscha, 2009. Photo: Paul Ruscha

Ed Ruscha started out in graphic design, photography and film-making; ever since he left the Midwest for California, however, painting has been his main focus. This exhibition presents works ranging from his debut at the famous Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, Documenta Kassel and the Venice Biennale, to the present day, when new generations are discovering his radical oeuvre.

The ostensibly commonplace subject matter, as though taken from an advertising campaign or shot from the driver’s seat, is inserted in new painterly contexts: early portraits of words, absurdly realistic paintings of mountain ranges and petrol stations, and later, more monumental works where complete sentences are contrasted against a dreamlike background. His works reveal a characteristic fascination for the power and enigma of language, and feature sharp paradoxes, ambiguities and contradictions. Ed Ruscha shifts the meaning of what we see, right before our eyes, and says: The most an artist can do is to start something and not give the whole story. That’s what makes mystery.

The exhibition is largely hung in chronological order and the paintings are grouped thematically. Between these themes, new connections arise; many mutual bonds have been made in the course of half a century of painting. Ed Ruscha’s oeuvre shows a strong consistency; his method of rummaging through our culture for material makes this exhibition an incisive and ever-morphing portrayal of Los Angeles, and thus, in a broader sense, of our time.

Curators, Stockholm: Lars Nittve and Ann-Sofi Noring
Curator, London: Ralph Rugoff

Exhibition organised by Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London in association with Moderna Museet, Stockholm.

Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London, 14 October 2009-10 January 2010
Haus der Kunst, Munchen, 12 February-2 May 2010
Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 29 May-5 September 2010

Ruscha is a legendary artist in the USA, and especially in California, where he finds his subject matter. For many years, he has enjoyed the esteem of European pop art lovers and is now definitely one of the world’s most highly acclaimed artists, and in great demand. Moreover, he has never before been featured in a solo exhibition in Sweden.

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