- Ed Ruscha
- signed E. Ruscha and dated 1966
- pencil and graphite on paper
Peter Gill, San Antonio
Janie Beggs Gallery, Beverly Hills
Tom O'Gara, Los Angeles
Acquired from the above by the present owner
New York, Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art, Ed Ruscha: Selected Works, 2005, illustrated in colour p. 18
Lisa Turvey, Edward Ruscha Catalogue Raisonné of the Works on Paper: Volume One: 1956-1976, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2014, no. D.1966.21, illustrated in colour p.172
By 1966 Ruscha had turned his back on the landscapes that had populated his early artistic output to focus almost exclusively on words. In this year he executed a small suite of twenty-five drawings inscribed in strong pencil script on softly modulated fields of graphite. Some words such as Cherish reinforced the intimate nature of the series, whilst others such as Heart Attack and Punk introduced a note of humour and incongruity.
Communication marks are a primary concern for Ruscha and he has explored them through numerous mediums and guises in his illustrious œuvre. With this series Ruscha began to investigate the aesthetics of generic words and phrases by creating fantastical trompe l’œil pictures that radically alter the traditional typeface and meaning of the depicted word. These early single word drawings are also a pure expression of Ruscha's concept that words can perform as an object, a title, an image and a plastic element all in one.
Although he is generally fascinated with the graphic appearance of written words rather than their implied meanings, it is tempting to read some autobiographical content into such an evocative word as Punk. As Lisa Turvey notes with the series to which Punk belongs: 'That these drawings feel personal is due not only to their small size, but also to their depiction of handwriting, that inimitable trace of a person, one through which he or she might be identified. They actualise a long-standing analogy in Western Art, articulated by Alberti, Leonardo, and Vasari, amongst others, between drawing and handwriting' (L. Turvey, ‘Whistling at the Symphony', in Edward Ruscha Catalogue Raisonné of the Works on Paper: Volume One: 1956-1976, New Haven & London, 2014, p. 22).