American artist Ed Ruscha began making prints and drawings consisting of one word on an often monochromatic, abstract background in the late 1950s and has continued to explore the language-based imagery that has become a hallmark of his work.
Born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1937, Ruscha moved to Los Angeles in 1956, excited by the newness, mobility and freedom represented by the Southern California landscape. Pulling elements from the visual language of advertising and commercial art, he has made hundreds of 'word' prints, drawings, and paintings that exhibit an interplay between bold letters and softly shaded, atmospheric backgrounds.
This book reproduces approximately 500 'word' drawings and works by Ruscha. Assembled together in the form of a thick block, these images become a sort of novel without an obvious plot, a series of words with no narrative. Some of the works consist of only one word -- great, mud, trust; others of short combinations or phrases such as Indeed I do, She Sure Knew Her Devotionals, Your Polyester People, That Housing Tract is Only Texture, and, of course, They Called Her Styrene.
In these works Ruscha's words transcend their apparent randomness to become visual icons of universal emotions and places known and imagined.
'Ambiguous, often hilarious and with no narrative to explain their presence, the words become objects or landscapes all to themselves.' (V magazine) '... The size and shape of a small, thick block - perfect for stocking-stuffing.' (New York Magazine)