Ed Ruscha (b. 1937) was born in Omaha, Nebraska but in his teens his family moved to Oklahoma City. He had an early interest in cartooning which influenced his later signature style. In 1956 he moved to Los Angeles where he studied at the Chouinard Art Institute (now known as the California Institute of the Arts) under Robert Irwin and Emerson Woelffer from 1956 through 1960. By the early 1960s he was well known for his paintings, collages, and photographs, and for his association with the Ferus Gallery. He worked as layout designer for Artforum magazine under the pseudonym “Eddie Russia” from 1965 to 1969 and taught at UCLA as a visiting professor for printing and drawing.
Ruscha’s work is heavily influenced by Los Angels and the landscape of Southern California. He is known for his use of strange media including vinyl, blood, wine, vegetable juices, gunpowder, and grass to name a few. In 1962 his work was included, along with Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Robert Dowd, Phillip Hefferton, Joe Goode, Jim Dine, and Wayne Thiebaud, in the historically important and ground-breaking "New Painting of Common Objects," curated by Walter Hopps at the Pasadena Art Museum. This exhibition is historically considered one of the first "Pop Art" exhibitions in America.
He has been the subject of multiple museum exhibitions including, with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (traveled to the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the San Antonio Museum of Art,TX and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA) starting in 1983, the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris in 1989, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C. in 2000, and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid in 2001. In 2004, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney mounted a selection of the artist's photographs, paintings, books and drawings that traveled to the Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo, Rome and to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. More recently his work has been shown at the de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA in 2006; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (traveled to Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO) in 2011; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA (traveled to The Rose Art Museum, Waltham, MA) in 2012, The Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA in 2013; and most recently at KODE Art Museums and Composer Homes, Bergen, Norway (traveled to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark) in 2018.
Ruscha’s work is included in many public collections including The Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Museum of Modern Art, NY; Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; Walker Art Center, MN; The Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; among others.