Bernard Jacobson Graphics is pleased to announce its forthcoming exhibition of prints by the renowned
American artist Ed Ruscha. I'm Amazed will provide unique insight into the celebrated graphic output of this
important American artist, focusing on his world of words. Following in the tradition of artists who used
words in their work, from the Dadaists and Surrealists who used them in a nonsensical way or as a
psychological tool, to the Conceptual artists who focused on the meaning of words, Ed Ruscha is part of the
first generation of pop artists who explored words as a formal or aesthetic device. He uses words as abstract
shapes, which don't necessarily have a literal meaning:
"They just occur to me, sometimes people say them and I write them down and then I paint them.
Sometimes I use a dictionary."
The exhibition at Bernard Jacobson Graphics presents some of the most iconic images by Ruscha, beginning
with the screenprint Hollywood. Ruscha was able to view the famous Hollywood sign from his studio, and
painted it in different versions over the next twenty years. Even though these signs are an iconic symbol for
the spirit of Southern California and the pop and celebrity culture of the United States, the artist uses them
only as words. "Words are pattern-like, and in their horizontality they answer my investigation into landscape.
They're almost not words - they are objects that become words."
Coming from the midwestern city of Oklahoma, Ruscha moved to Los Angeles in his late teens, which
offered him a wealth of material for his artistic expressions. On his journeys home to Oklahoma he passed
the petrol stations, which became the subject of a series of paintings and prints exhibited here. Ruscha
included the photos from these trips to Oklahoma in his first artist's book; he later created a portfolio with
prints of his artist's book covers, which also feature here.
In some of his later work, Ruscha became bored with the typographical restrictions of his words, and he
began what he calls his "romance with liquids." The now free-floating letters written with spilled liquid gave
Ruscha more freedom in his use of them, as for example with Lisp. Another extension in his artistic
experiments could be called his "romance with materials." Ruscha started to use organic materials for his
prints, as in his London-inspired portfolio News, Mews.... In his painting Evil he even used his own blood.
Surrealist ideas, especially from Magritte and Dali, were of great interest for Ruscha. The often-explored fears
and fantasies in the Surrealist movement are to be found in his Insect portfolio, with ants and cockroaches
which are reminiscent of Luis Buñuel's film Un Chien Andalou. The insects in Ruscha's portfolio are
nevertheless shown as meticulously copied insects with detailed bodies and wings, rather than as frightening
or threatening objects.
One of his oversized insect prints reads "I'm Amazed"; this was one of the first prints where the artist used
sentences with a literal meaning in his work. Like many other works in the exhibition, it was published by
Bernard Jacobson. Bernard Jacobson's portfolio Man walking away from it all was recently exhibited in a major
show of Ed Ruscha's art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. His work is exhibited worldwide, the
latest instance being this past summer at the Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria. A forthcoming exhibition of prints
and photographs opens in 2013 at the Kunstmuseum Basel, where equal importance is placed on the prints
and on the paintings, demonstrating Ruscha's innovation in both media.
For further information please contact Constance Aehlig at [email protected], or on
+44 (0)20 7734 3431