Edward Ruscha, 'THE END #40' 2003

Edward Ruscha
THE END #40 2003
Acrylic on paper
support: 610 x 762 mm
ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008© Edward Ruscha

September has arrived and schools have flung their doors open once again. It’s official, summer as we know it is on its way out. Without wanting to sound maudlin, the Jubilee celebrations and Olympic Games have made it an incredible summer to be in Britain, however, as the evening light fades it’s time to look ahead.

The End #40 is one of a series of paintings, prints and drawings by the artist that features the phrase ‘The End’. Having lived and worked in Los Angeles since moving to the city in 1956, Ruscha’s work is hugely influenced by the metropolis home of Hollywood, its thrall and fallacy.

Painted in 2003 using acrylic paint applied by spray gun, inverse stencils and masking fluid, two incomplete, blue-hued frames of a film strip are thrust into the foreground. Faded central areas and absence of a black perforated film-strip border hint at the incandescent light of a projector. It’s as if the film has stalled in a darkened cinema and we’re the paying viewer, stuck in limbo awaiting the final frame. In a serif font reminiscent of old movies the words have been sliced in half by the canvas edge, rendering ‘The End’ seemingly endless.

During the 1950s Ruscha maintained a love of cinema:

Old movies, because of their age, were appealing to me. The imagery that comes from it and the flaws and scratches all became part of my interest in the whole thing. They are moving pictures. It’s a profound medium, not unlike painting. Painting is all static but movies … they move. (Quoted in Schwartz 2010, p.92.)

Whilst we may feel a momentary mad desire to ‘forget’ to set the alarm clock or refuse to let go of our holiday-induced repose, like Boris in his handover of Olympic flag, perhaps it’s best to remember the beauty of change and transition. After all it’s the little flaws and scratches picked up along the way that make the whole thing more interesting.