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Cotton Puffs, Q-tips, Smoke and Mirrors: The Drawings of Ed Ruscha

Rowell, Margit, and Ed Ruscha; with an essay by Cornelia Butler

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ISBN 10: 0874271401 / ISBN 13: 9780874271409
Published by Whitney Museum, New York, 2004
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Warwick Books, member IOBA (South Pasadena, CA, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Hardcover in gray cloth boards stamped with white lettering. No dust jacket, as issued. First printing of first edition. Book is in fine, As New, gift-giving condition, crisp and clean, with tight binding and sharp corners. Published to accompany an exhibit of Ruscha's drawings organized by the Whitney Museum in New York in 2004 and also shown in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Full-page plates throughout. 4to. 260 pp. including index. In protective Mylar. Heavy--more than four pounds; will require additional postage if shipped outside the U.S. Bookseller Inventory # 81370

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Cotton Puffs, Q-tips, Smoke and Mirrors: The...

Publisher: Whitney Museum, New York

Publication Date: 2004

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Edition: First edition

About this title


Ed Ruscha (b. 1937) is among the most popular American artists working today. His evocations of commonplace subjects have earned him a reputation as a Pop artist, while his interest in language and typography has aligned him with Conceptual art. This book, published to accompany Ruscha's first museum retrospective of drawings, showcases his singular vision and his wide range of highly personal mediums and techniques-from pastels and gunpowder to blood, coffee, and tobacco stains.

Ruscha's work includes paintings, photographs, prints, books, and films, but his unique works on paper are perhaps his richest vein. Through his interpretations of cultural icons and vernacular subjects such as the Hollywood sign, trademarks, and gas stations, as well as his renderings of words and phrases in countless stylistic variations, Ruscha proposes a modern landscape based on keen observation and wry humor.


In a 1976 drawing by Ed Ruscha, the word "Promise"—--spelled out in ribbon-like script—--is suspended at an oblique angle against a delicate gray background and bathed in a gauzy white light. Somehow, this image perfectly sums up the hopeful feeling that success is right around the corner. Ruscha's ability to give concrete form to the inner life of words and images from popular culture has made him a rare breed of artist---a critic's darling whose work also fascinates ordinary art lovers. Cotton Puffs, Q-Tips®, Smoke and Mirrors: The Drawings of Ed Ruscha collects more than 200 of Ruscha's coolly mysterious works on paper in a handsomely designed volume marred only by a hard-to-read gray typeface. The odd title comes from a remark the artist once made. He uses cotton puffs and swabs to rub gunpowder (which creates those smoky grays) or pastel into the rag paper. Author Margit Rowell emphasizes the influence of photography and film on Ruscha's visual outlook---as well as his training in graphic design and the Los Angeles "landscape" of billboards glimpsed from car windows. Rucha, who is also known for his paintings and his idiosyncratic photo books (depicting serial images of gas stations, parking lots and other banal sights), has been working on paper since the late 1950s. Rowell tracks the various themes and styles of his drawings, while essayist Cornelia Butler adds additional art world context. Although Ruscha has been called a Pop artist and a West Coast Surrealist, Butler sees him as "an essentially Conceptualist artist who seeks to render ideas as information." She singles out his "deeply eccentric nihilism...filtered through a keen humor." This book accompanies an exhibition of Ruscha's work on paper organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (June 24–Sept. 26, 2004). -—Cathy Curtis

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Warwick Books, is an Internet-only bookseller that specializes in hard-to-find books for avid readers and collectors. Many of our books are out of print. Specialties include literature, signed firsts, art and photography, design, illustrated books, cookbooks, field guides, children's books, needlecraft books, and Americana. We recently acquired a large private collection of books on military history. The focus is on World War II as well as aviation history. Warwick Books is a member of IOBA, the Independent Online Booksellers Association.

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We accept personal checks, money orders, Paypal, and credit card payments through ABE's secure ABE Commerce arrangement. California residents add 9.5 percent sales tax. Please e-mail or phone to confirm availability of books before sending payment. We can be reached at Warwick Books, 101 Warwick Place, South Pasadena, CA, att: Suzanne Mantell. Phone 323-683-3294; e-mail All items are guaranteed as described. We ship all books well protected in bubble wrap and boxes. Bo...

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