October 9, 2016


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Lot 140: Ed Ruscha

Lot 140: Ed Ruscha

Eight Trembling Individuals

Blackberry juice on paper
Signed and dated verso
Sheet: 22.75" x 28.75"; Frame: 27.625" x 33.625"
This work will be included in a forthcoming volume of Edward Ruscha: Catalogue Raisonné of the Works on Paper.

Together with original frame which retains Fort Worth Art Museum exhibition label verso
Provenance: Private Collection, Los Angeles, California (acquired directly from the artist, 1978)
Exhibited: "Edward Ruscha: Recent Drawings," Fort Worth Art Museum, Fort Worth, December 4, 1977-January 22, 1978
Estimate: $250,000 - $350,000
Inventory Id: 23139

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Ed Ruscha's training in commercial art is evident in the everyday subject matter, slick imagery, and neatly set typography of his works. His works often employ text, which is rendered with such graphic simplicity that the language becomes as pictorial as it is linguistic. Eight Trembling Individuals (1977) was produced during a period in which Ruscha had temporarily abandoned painting. This period resulted in a range of radical experiments, including the use of such unconventional materials as chocolate, lettuce, egg yolk, blood, and in this case, blackberry juice, in his works. Ruscha's incorporation of unusual media suggests a revolt against the strictures of traditional painting.

These works helped Ruscha out of an artistic impasse and led to one of the richest phases in his career. "For a whole year I couldn't paint. It was 1970 and I didn't do any painting… And so 'staining' came out of that. Instead of applying a skin of paint to a canvas support, I would stain the surface, so it was another way out of this box I'd painted myself into. I was in a corner and this was the most logical thing, and it involved the concept of liquids." With its horizontal smears, washes of thin color and occasional remnants of berry, the movement of the artist's hand is visible in the sweeps across the sheet. That the stark lines of the text emerge clear and unsullied by the fruit attests to Ruscha's type-setting skills and early education in graphic arts. The ambiguous choice of phrase, a hallmark of Ruscha's work, leaves the meaning of the work open to multiple interpretations. As the artist says, "I am careful not to be literal, not to offer this other option to anyone." This work was included in the exhibition "Edward Ruscha: Recent Drawings" at the Fort Worth Art Museum in 1977 through 1978.

Schwartz, Alexandra, ed. Leave Any Information at the Signal: Writings, Interviews, Bits, Pages. The MIT Press, 2004. Print.