11.28.2014

EDWARD RUSCHA'S DRAWINGS OF LOS ANGELES APARTMENTS

EDWARD RUSCHA: DOHENY DRIVE, GRAPHITE ON PAPER, 1965
COLLECTION OF MR. AND MRS. DONALD MARRON
 
EDWARD RUSCHA: ATLANTIC BOULEVARD, GRAPHITE ON PAPER, 1965
PRIVATE COLLECTION
 
EDWARD RUSCHA: BRONSON TROPICS, GRAPHITE ON PAPER, 1965
COLLECTION OF THE ARTIST
 
EDWARD RUSCHA: BEVERLY GLEN, GRAPHITE ON PAPER, 1965
HIRSHHORN MUSEUM AND SCULPTURE GARDEN,
SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION, WASHINGTON, D.C.;
JOSEPH H. HIRSHHORN BEQUEST
 
EDWARD RUSCHA: NORMANDIE, GRAPHITE ON PAPER, 1965
COLLECTION OF THE ARTIST
 
EDWARD RUSCHA: THAYER AVENUE, GRAPHITE ON PAPER, 1965
HIRSHHORN MUSEUM AND SCULPTURE GARDEN,
SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION, WASHINGTON, D.C.;
JOSEPH H. HIRSHHORN BEQUEST
 
EDWARD RUSCHA: WILSHIRE BOULEVARD, GRAPHITE ON PAPER, 1965
PRIVATE COLLECTION
 
In 1965 Edward Ruscha published Some Los Angeles Apartments, a book that revieles the artist's fascination with the city and its unique characteristics. Having moved there from Oklahoma in 1956, Ruscha was immediately excited by his new environment and stimulated by its fast and mobile landscape. He found gasoline stations, apartments, vacant lots, and palm trees during drives around Los Angeles and photographed them from where he stood beside his parked car. 

Ruscha's interest, however, was not in documenting the city’s street scene or in making fine art photographs. His interest was in making books. The subject was incidental to the desire to make the experience of a book something different and exceptional. At first glance, the book looks as if it were a real estate guide with all the descriptive text removed. The deadpan layout and cover design are directly related to Ruscha's paintings at that time, which often used the same generic typefaces and symmetrical composition of three horizontal lines of type.

Simultaneously with the book production, he executed a series of apartment drawings. He selected ten images that particularly appealed to him for their diversity of formal composition, architectural style, and geometric divisions and executed them in powdered graphite on identically sized horizontal sheets of paper. Some, but not all of the subjects appear as photographs in “Some Los Angeles Apartments”.

Ruscha simplified the photographic images when translating them into drawings. He eliminated telephone lines, smoothed out the textures of the buildings, stylized the palm fronds, creating minimalistic variations of the original photos. He modified the proportions of the buildings, their height and perspective. He added angles and architectural details or decorative light fixtures to increase spatial patterning and heighten shadow contrast.

Soft shaded graphite areas and hard-edge planes or sharp linear elements was achieved by rubbing powdered graphite on the paper in varying densities with a cotton swab, often masking out certain areas with tape or blocking out portions of buildings when applying the graphite. The sharp contrasts of light and dark that result intensify the strong diagonal and horizontal elements typical of Ruscha’s art.

Photos and text via
Edward Ruscha Los Angeles apartments, 1965 / Richard Marshall
Whitney Museum of Modern Art (1990)

No comments: