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Edward Ruscha's Photography Books

The artist talks about the cultural curiosities which fill his photography book series

Edward Ruscha explains he "had no real agenda or message" when photographing the swimming pools, gas stations and parking lots of Los Angeles yet found an artistic value and new perspective in shooting the scenes from above.

transcription

My name is Ed Ruscha and I live in Los Angeles, California, USA.

Especially in my books I had no real agenda or message or point of communication for anybody and I just wanted to explore the subject, sort of, dead…dead head straight on without much emotion. Lack of emotion is almost like…a little like no style, in a way.

I had this notion to make a book and I had been photographing gasoline stations across America. What used to belong to the Navaho and Apache Indians now belongs to the white man and he’s got gas stations out there. So, I started seeing it as cultural curiosities.

Sometimes… and I get inspired by a photograph sort of suggest painting a picture of that very thing so the way I photographed had a kind of a dramatic angle to it that I really like and I thought, this has got to somehow enter into the realm of painting.

Parking lots came about almost by accident and I had an opportunity to go up in a helicopter above LA. And so, I went with a friend of mine and a pilot and we did the entire city in like 45 minutes. I began to really notice swimming pools and parking lots, were two elements of the city that really impressed me. I liked it just for the study of it and it just spoke back to me, you know, it had some kind of value to me as to making a work of art. Seeing the top side of something instead of necessarily looking directly on like this, base line perspective, so looking over the top of something sort of allows for more view, a lot to do with perspective and the fact that things diminish and come into the foreground and so it’s all those elements that come together that… attract me to it.

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