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Ed Ruscha's drawings constitute as rich a body of work as his paintings and his books, as the National Gallery of Art's Cotton Puffs, Q-tips , Smoke and Mirrors show of 2005 amply demonstrated. Authorized by the artist, Volume 1 of the Edward Ruscha Catalogue Raisonné of Works on Paper (1956-1969) collects approximately 550 sketches, studies and drawings, each presented in chronological order with color reproduction. As a definitive resource, the catalogue provides title, year, medium and dimensions along with location, origin, exhibition history and a bibliography of the works. This first volume collects Ruscha's earliest works, from his apprenticeship years as an art student, along with sketch ideas, drafts of book covers, studies for oil paintings and drawings of words, often executed in such unusual materials as gunpowder, vegetable juices, petroleum jelly, tobacco stain--and sometimes even in graphite and pastels! All of these works propose Ruscha as a profoundly premeditative artist, for whom sketches are an essential first step on the way to a well-executed final product. They also expose Ruscha as an artist whose finished drawings always invoke their conceptual dimension--particularly so when the materials are unusual, paradoxically--over their texture, thus opening a breach between signifier and the word as icon. As noted critic and art historian Dave Hickey observes, "The mystery of Ed Ruscha's drawings begins with drawing itself, with its peculiar status in the history of Western art, where it has always occupied an equivocal position between the realms of objects and ideas."
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Ed Ruscha was born in 1937 in Omaha, Nebraska and grew up in Oklahoma City. In 1956 he moved to Los Angeles, where he attended the Chouinard Art Institute. His work has been the subject of exhibits at the Centre George Pompidou, Paris, the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.
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