The Easel

19th September 2023

The deadpan precision of Ed Ruscha’s L.A. sensibility

What is it about Ruscha’s word paintings? Their lineage goes back to Picasso and Braque who put advertising text in their collages. Ruscha’s works feature deadpan phrases plucked from the “clamour of American life”. Sometimes, their meaning is so literal, so obvious, that the viewer doubts themselves. Such works are like “billboards that are empty of sentences but have plenty to say.” Little wonder the writer calls Ruscha the “genius of Pop Conceptualism”.