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Ed Ruscha

This video brought to you by Tate.org.uk

Ed Ruscha's exploration of language and American West Coast culture centered on Hollywood has made him one of the pre-eminent artists of his generation. Drawing upon sources from the everyday world and embracing the techniques and imagery of commercial culture, Ruscha was associated with the Pop art movement in the early 1960s, creating collages and drawing comparisons to artists like Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. Since then he has channeled his fascination with words and the act of communication into books, print-making, photography, drawing and painting. Take a peek into the artist's Los Angeles studio today and get a closer look at his paintings, which juxtapose images and words in ways evocative of contemporary culture.

Think of how you might make your own image in the style of Ed Ruscha. What kind of unexpected juxtapositions between words and images would you create?
Created by Tate.

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Video transcript

Los Angeles [had] a lot to do with my feeling about about art and the world and everything I came from sort of a almost backward place in Oklahoma when I came to California it was very sparkly, glamorous, and so it was like a new world to me, an accelerated culture that I responded to The real vitality for me is to be in my own studio, in my own environment I'm constantly moving wherever I work and like I might work here for a while, and then I'll I'll move this to somewhere else Sometimes I'll work on four or five things at the same time To the point where I don't know what direction i'm going in or but that's that's also exhilarating at the same time I think I sent it on words because first of all they had no no size So if I painted the word boss, I could paint it that big or I could paint that big and I like that That you could be realistic and at the same time not be bound by any kind of reference, size reference And I also like the sort of left-to-right kind of thing You know our eyes are like this and we read like this and landscapes are like this Well, I had a studio on Western Avenue in Hollywood, and I would walk outside I'd look up in the hills and there was the Hollywood sign. Looking at that every day I just thought well I should make a comment on it It's also got these things left to right, it's got those words It's got those letters and it also had that sort of corny magic to it. Just the idea of Hollywood It's always been a symbol, a potent symbol Backgrounds to me are simply just that, backgrounds, and they're more like stage settings Can almost be like elevator music. You know, where you're just like accenting or you're kind of setting a stage or setting a tone for a given subject So I use stencils too. Like see this is a stencil here that's not even the finished work, but begins to make a kind of a lively picture it's hard to read that but it says 'Car Parts' I like the tension of having a combination of words or a word in front of something that is also lively in itself like a mountaintop And a lot of these mountaintops, they suggest glory or beauty, things like that They almost like have their own Orchestration you know you can almost hear trumpets playing and I like that reference It's sort of a nonverbal way of referencing something that is is really not making any noise at all But then put in combination with words that that tension is is is where I'm where I live I guess