26 July 2019 – Spring 2020
ARTIST ROOMS: Ed Ruscha, the latest in the series of annual free displays in the dedicated ARTIST ROOMS gallery in Tate Modern’s Blavatnik building, opens to the public on 26 July 2019 and will run until Spring 2020. It will feature works spanning the entirety of Ruscha’s six-decade career, including large text-based paintings and his iconic photographic series.
Also featured is a comprehensive display of Ruscha’s artist’s books, including Various Small Fires 1964 and Every Building on the Sunset Strip 1966, as well as some 40 works on paper gifted to Tate for ARTIST ROOMS by the artist following his 2015 promise to donate all future prints he makes to the national collection. This builds on the spectacular generosity of Ruscha’s gift of his painting The Music from the Balconies 1984 to the ARTIST ROOMS collection in 2009.
American artist Ed Ruscha (b.1937) is well known for his depiction of isolated words and phrases, often superimposed over picturesque landscapes or featuring incongruous objects and a variety of textures, real or simulated. His early career as a commercial graphic artist strongly influenced his techniques and thematic approach, referencing the language of advertisement. Although initially inspired by Neo-Dada and Pop Art, his paintings quickly demonstrated a unique aesthetic that defies easy categorisation. His text-based works, photographic series of urban landscapes and enigmatic artist’s books were hugely influential in the development of conceptual art in the 1960s and 1970s, and his sardonic takes on the banality of modern life continue to inspire generations of artists.
Ruscha used unconventional materials in his graphic work of the late 1960s and 1970s: he drew with gunpowder and painted and printed with foodstuffs and a variety of organic substances; for example, DANCE? 1973 was made using coffee, egg white and mustard.
He often draws inspiration from his adopted hometown of Los Angeles, from its architecture and topography to the mass media imagery it generates. This exhibition includes his series of photographs of LA’s swimming pools and parking lots, as well as paintings inspired by classic Hollywood cinema such as The Final End 1993.
In Ruscha’s works commonplace expressions and out-of-context quotations are paired with visual stereotypes and familiar objects, generating images that are eye-catching and yet somehow mundane, as seen in the painting Pay Nothing Until April 2003. His works are characterised by a deadpan sense of humour, although they can also be interpreted as commentaries on consumer culture and other aspects of contemporary American society and politics, as seen most explicitly in the large painting Our Flag 2017.
This exhibition draws from ARTIST ROOMS, a touring collection of over 1,600 works of modern and contemporary art by more than 42 major artists. The collection is displayed across the UK through a touring programme, supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, Art Fund and Creative Scotland. The ARTIST ROOMS collection is owned jointly by Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland and was established through The d’Offay Donation in 2008, with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund and the Scottish and British Governments. The ARTIST ROOMS gallery opened in the Blavatnik Building on 17 June 2016 with an exhibition of Louise Bourgeois, followed by Bruce Nauman in 2017 and Jenny Holzer in 2018.
ARTIST ROOMS: Ed Ruscha is curated by Kerryn Greenberg, Head of International Collection Exhibitions, Tate and Valentina Ravaglia, Assistant Curator, Tate.
Born in 1937 in Omaha, Nebraska, Edward Ruscha was raised in Oklahoma City, where his family moved in 1941. In 1956 he moved to Los Angeles to study graphic design at the Chouinard Art Institute (now the California Institute of Arts). Ruscha has been the subject of numerous museum retrospectives that have travelled internationally, including those organised by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1982; the Centre Georges Pompidou in 1989; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in 2000; the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in 2002; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney in 2004; the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2004; the Jeu de Paume in 2006; and the Hayward Gallery in 2009. In 2005, Ruscha represented the United States at the 51st Venice Biennale. In recent years exhibitions have included Ruscha: Road Tested (2011) at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, On the Road (2011) at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, Reading Ed Ruscha (2012) at the Kunsthaus Bregenz, Ed Ruscha: Standard (2012–13) at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and The Rose Art Museum, Waltham, Ed Ruscha—Los Angeles Apartments (2013) at the Kunstmuseum Basel, In Focus: Ed Ruscha (2013) at The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ed Ruscha: Mixmaster (2015–16) at the Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli, Torino and Ed Ruscha: Course of Empire at the National Gallery, London (2018).
ARTIST ROOMS is a touring collection of over 1,600 works of modern and contemporary art. The collection is displayed across the UK in solo exhibitions that showcase the work of more than 42 major artists, and this touring programme gives young people the chance to get involved in creative projects, discover more about art and learn new skills. Since 2009, nearly 50 million people have visited some 185 displays at 85 museums and galleries, from Penzance to the Hebrides, and from Belfast to Llandudno.
ARTIST ROOMS is jointly owned by the National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. The collection was established through The d’Offay Donation in 2008, with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund, and the Scottish and British Governments. The current ARTIST ROOMS touring programme is delivered by the National Galleries of Scotland and Tate in a partnership with Ferens Art Gallery until 2019, supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, Art Fund and by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland. www.nationalgalleries.org/artistrooms | www.tate.org.uk/artist-rooms | www.artistrooms.org | #ARTISTROOMS
Arts Council England
Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. www.artscouncil.org.uk
Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. In the past five years alone Art Fund has given £34 million to help museums and galleries acquire works of art for their collections. It also helps museums share their collections with wider audiences by supporting a range of tours and exhibitions, and makes additional grants to support the training and professional development of curators. Art Fund is independently funded, with the core of its income provided by 151,000 members who receive the National Art Pass and enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions and subscription to Art Quarterly magazine. In addition to grant-giving, Art Fund’s support for museums includes Art Fund Museum of the Year (won by Tate St Ives in 2018) and a range of digital platforms. Find out more about Art Fund and the National Art Pass at www.artfund.org
Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here. We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life. We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. For further information about Creative Scotland please visit www.creativescotland.com. Follow us @creativescots and www.facebook.com/CreativeScotland