Art Book Show

Ed Ruscha Books & Co.


Mar. 12th – May. 7th 2015

Books & Co. presents Ruscha’s legendary artist books together with those of more than seventy contemporary artists from all over the world who have responded directly and diversely to his inspiration. Some of the books are installed so that viewers can browse their pages.

Inspired by the unassuming books that he found in street stalls during a trip to Europe, in 1962 Ruscha published his first artist’s book, Twentysix Gasoline Stations under his own imprint, National Excelsior Press. A slim, cheaply produced volume, then priced at $3.50, Twentysix Gasoline Stations is exactly what its title suggests: twenty-six photographs of gas stations with captions indicating their brand and location, just like works of art. Initially, the book met with poor reception, and was even rejected by the Library of Congress for its “unorthodox form and supposed lack of information.” However, over time it acquired cult status, and by the 1980s it was hailed as one of the first truly modern artist’s books. Ruscha followed this up with a succession of similarly self-evident and deadpan books, including Some Los Angeles Apartments (1965), Nine Swimming Pools and a Broken Glass (1968), and Real Estate Opportunities (1970), all of which combined the literalness of early California pop art with a photographic aesthetic informed by minimalist sequence and seriality, shot through with a wry sense of humor.

Ruscha’s artist books have been deeply influential on his peers and followers—from Bruce Nauman’s Burning Small Fires (1968), in which Nauman burned a copy of Ruscha’s Various Small Fires and Milk (1964) and photographed the process, to Julie Cook’s Some Las Vegas Strip Clubs (2008), which turns the lights up on some nocturnal haunts, and Mishka Henner’s detailed Fifty-one US Military Outposts (2010), comprising aerial views of international US military bases. Between these early and recent examples are a wealth of responses to Ruscha’s ideas by artists from different generations and cultural contexts, gathered here in one celebratory exhibition.

Organizer Bob Monk
Address Paris, France

433 editions by participating artists and publishers on edcat

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