Friday, March 26, 2010

Standard Station

Born in 1937, Ed Ruscha was raised in Oklahoma City, and in 1956 moved to Los Angeles, California. There, he enrolled at the Chouinard Art Institute, a school that provided training in both commercial and fine arts. Ruscha started gaining recognition in the late 1960s, particularly with his famous liquid words pictures. He was then associated with the Ferus Gallery group, along with Robert Irwin, Edward Moses, and Ken Price. Ruscha also worked with photography and produced a great number of photographic art books, most made in Southern California between 1963 and 1978. His oeuvre is regarded as one of the most significant artistic precedents of Conceptualism. Influenced by Pop art, he experimented with the new language and iconography of popular culture, and Standard Station is emblematic of the style he developed during the 1960s.

It depicts a typical American gasoline station, and uses only a few colors applied flatly to the canvas. In painting such a structured composition, with its striking architectural delineation, Ruscha enlivens what might otherwise be a banal scene. The painting is typically Pop in its melding of fine and graphic arts. Standard is the brand name, but here it is also a play on the standardization of modern culture and society. It also comments on the standardization of the image itself, which is streamlined and reproduced Ruscha made a series of screen prints of this painting, now in the collections of several museums including the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

- Stephen Farthing

Ed Ruscha - Standard Station, Amarillo, Texas (1963)

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