Ed Ruscha’s first public commission in NYC

His 1977 word painting will appear as a large hand-painted mural beside The High Line next month
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Rendering of Ed Ruscha's forthcoming High Line commission
Rendering of Ed Ruscha's forthcoming High Line commission

Unveiled a few weeks after the city’s new mayor announced his commitment to lowering New York’s road deaths, Ed Ruscha’s High Line commission could be read like a vernacular traffic report. 

In truth the text mural, on view 6 May 2014 – May 2015, on the wall of a residential building overlooking the elevated park, at 22nd Street and Tenth Avenue in Chelsea, is a recreation of Ruscha’s 1977 word painting. These simple works have been produced by the 76-year-old pop artist throughout his career, sometimes painted using peculiar paint substitutes, such as egg or blackberry juice. In part they’re a tribute to the kind of billboard advertising Ruscha once worked on  while employed at the Carson-Roberts Advertising Agency in Los Angeles, in other ways they sum up the indigestible monads of contemporary life.

 

Ed Ruscha, Honey, I Twisted  Through More Damn Traffic,  1977. Private collection. Courtesy  the artist and Gagosian Gallery,  New York
Ed Ruscha, Honey, I Twisted Through More Damn Traffic, 1977. Private collection. Courtesy the artist and Gagosian Gallery, New York

While this work was first created as a simple painting at Ruscha’s studio in the traffic choked streets of LA, the work will take a very different significance once installed as a hand-painted sign in Manhattan.

Friends of the High Line, which oversees the park’s art commissions hopes that “camouflaged in the architecture surrounding the High Line, Ruscha’s giant street sign will read like a speech bubble  emanating directly from the streets of New York – a collective thought balloon hovering on the High Line like a silent soundtrack for a new symphony of the city.”

 

Ed Ruscha
Ed Ruscha

To learn more about the man who made that thought balloon, consider this, the first monograph on the many-faceted career of Ed Ruscha; and for more on his word works, pick up They Called Her Styrene, Etc., which features almost 600 such artworks by the seminal American artist.


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