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Finding Aid for the Edward Ruscha Photographs of Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard, 1965-2010
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Related Archival Materials
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Edward Ruscha photographs of Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard
    Date (inclusive): 1965-2010
    Number: 2012.M.1
    Creator/Collector: Ruscha, Edward
    Physical Description: 71.6 linear feet (50 boxes, 1 flat file)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: The archive is comprised of material related to Ed Ruscha's photographic documentation of two major Los Angeles thoroughfares: Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard, as well as the projects that resulted from the documentation of the two streets. Ruscha documented Sunset Boulevard in twelve shoots between 1965 and 2001, and Hollywood Boulevard in four shoots between 1973 and 2004. Finished projects include his fourth photographic art book, Every Building on the Sunset Strip, 1966; the portfolio Sunset Strip 1965/1995, and the portfolio and book Then & Now: Hollywood Boulevard 1973-2004, 2005.
    Request Materials: Request access to the physical materials described in this inventory through the catalog record  for this collection. Click here for the access policy .
    Language: Collection material is in English with some German.

    Biographical/Historical Note

    The American artist Edward Joseph Ruscha IV was born in Omaha, Nebraska on December 16, 1937 to Edward Ruscha III, an insurance auditor, and his wife Dorothy Driscoll Ruscha. He was raised in Oklahoma City where he met his lifelong friends Mason Williams, Joe Goode, and Jerry McMillan. After graduation from high school he drove to California with Mason Williams to attend Chouinard Art Institute (now California Institute of the Arts). Robert Irwin and Emerson Woelffer were among the teachers who would have an especially strong influence on him.
    Ruscha graduated from Chouinard in 1960 and in 1961 made his first trip to Europe, traveling with his mother and older sister Shelby by car for seven months. The numerous travel images he took with his Yashika camera that include storefronts, window displays, and billboards, as well as the perhaps more typical images of people they met on their journey, thematically and stylistically prefigure the photographs he was soon to take for his early artist's books such as Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1963) and Some Los Angeles Apartments (1965).
    A visit to New York on his way back to California opened Ruscha's eyes to Pop Art, and the work he subsequently created was included in New Painting of Common Objects, the first exhibition of Pop Art, curated by Walter Hopps at the Pasadena Art Museum in 1962. The following year Hopps gave Ruscha his first solo show at Ferus Gallery. Informed by Pop Art and the distinctive billboard culture of Los Angeles, Ruscha went on to become a pivitol presence in the West Coast and Conceptual art scenes.
    Although much of Ruscha's work is informed by or uses photography as its point of departure, he sees himself not as a photographer but as someone who uses the medium of photography as part of his larger artistic practice. His early photographic artist's books, many of which further distill the quotidian elements of the Los Angeles cityscape - parking lots, urban streets, and apartment buildings - into serial imagery, have fundamentally altered the genre of the artist's book through their use of photography and commercial production methods. Yet in a discussion of his artist's books with Silvia Wolf, Ruscha noted, "My use of the camera is still a tool to make a picture...At the time I was into making pictures that happened to be photographs, rather than making 'photographs' ("Nostalgia and New Editions; A Converstion with Ed Ruscha," in Ed Ruscha and Photography, 2004, p. 257).
    Known for the drawings and paintings of words and phrases that he began making in the 1960s, as well as for his artist's books, Ruscha is one of the pre-eminent artists of his generation. He has exhibited widely in the United States and abroad. His first international exhibition was in Cologne at Galerie Rudolf Zwirner in 1968. A few years later he began showing at Leo Castelli Gallery in New York, and his first retrospective was held at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1982. He is currently represented by Gagosian Gallery (Los Angeles and New York).

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers. Audio-visual materials unavailable until reformatting is complete. Film negatives unavailable due to conservation concerns.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Edward Ruscha photographs of Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard, 1965-2010, Getty Research Institute, Research Library, Accession no. 2012.M.1.

    Acquistion Information

    Acquired in 2012.

    Processing History

    Processed by Beth Ann Guynn and Linda Kleiger in 2012.

    Related Archival Materials

    The Getty Research Library also holds the Edward Ruscha Photographs of Los Angeles Streets collection, Special Collection accession number 2012.M.2.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The collection is comprised of material related to Ed Ruscha's photographic documentation of two major Los Angeles thoroughfares: Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard, as well as materials pertaining to the projects that resulted from the documentation of the two streets.
    Ruscha documented Sunset Boulevard in twelve shoots between 1965 and 2001 using a motorized camera mounted on a tripod in the bed of his pickup truck. The shoots covered the twenty-five mile length of Sunset Boulevard and included both sides of the street. In 1966 Ruscha self-published his fourth photographic art book, the iconic Every Building on the Sunset Strip, which reproduced the images from his 1966 shoot. He reworked six of the original 1966 images for his portfolio Sunset Strip 1965/1995, produced with the art dealer and gallerist Patrick Painter in 1995.
    Series I: Sunset Boulevard, contains approximately 5,000 original negatives and 90 contact sheets from the 1966, 1976, and 1998 shoots; the original film rolls (on seven negative and seven positive rolls) from the seven shoots made between 1973 and 1997 (excluding 1976); six videotapes that represent the 2000 and 2001 shoots; and corresponding documentation. It also contains the production materials for Every Building on the Sunset Strip and the 1995 portfolio. Materials pertaining to the book span from negatives and contact sheets from the earliest documentation attempts (circa 1965) to Jerry McMillan's 1965 preliminary contact prints and mock-ups, to the finished book. Included are circa 800 negatives and 64 contact sheets, Ruscha's mock-ups and maquettes, proofs, press pulls, and proof and final copies of the book, and a record book containing lists of expenses for shooting and printing and lists of books both gifted and sold. The later portfolio is represented by negatives and prints used for selecting the final images or test shots, "scratched" (i.e. altered) negatives and prints, and a small amount of documentation pertaining to the project.
    Series II: Hollywood Boulevard, contains materials resulting from Ruscha's documentation of that thoroughfare between 1973 and 2004. The four shoots (1973, 2002, 2003, and 2004) covered twelve miles and included both sides of the street. Included are the original 1973 still images (circa 4,600 negatives and 29 contact sheets containing circa 4,500 frames) and the later images shot on still film (circa 14,000 negatives and two positive film reels) and video (2 videos), as well as documentation pertaining to the original shoot. Still images from all of the shoots are also compiled on CDs.
    In 2005 the German publisher and master printer, Gerhard Steidl, published Then & Now: Hollywood Boulevard 1973-2004, in both a limited edition portfolio and as a trade book. In these works Ruscha's original 1973 images run parallel to their 2004 versions, recording the changes that had occurred to the thoroughfare over three decades. As with Every Building on the Sunset Strip the images of the north side of the boulevard run along the top of the sheet or page, while those of the south side of the boulevard run inverted along its bottom.
    Also included in Series II are the production materials for the project, ranging from index prints, initial layouts, proof sheets, and dummies, to examples of the final products. Documentation includes maps, street name and numbering systems, image sequence lists, and memos on working and production procedures.


    The collection is comprised of two series: Series I: Sunset Boulevard, 1965-2010, undated; Series II: Hollywood Boulevard, 1973-2005, undated.

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Topics

    Streets--United States--Los Angeles

    Subjects - Places

    Hollywood Boulevard (Los Angeles, Calif.)--Description and travel
    Los Angeles (Calif.)--Description and travel
    Sunset Boulevard (Los Angeles, Calif.)--Description and travel

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Artists books--California--Los Angeles--20th century
    Black-and white negatives--California--Los Angeles--21st century
    Black-and-white negatives--California--Los Angeles--20th century
    Compact discs--California--Los Angeles--21st century
    Contact prints--California--Los Angeles--20th century
    Contact prints--California--Los Angeles--21st century
    Contact sheets--California--Los Angeles--20th century
    Contact sheets--California--Los Angeles--21st century
    Dummies (printed matter)--California--Los Angeles--20th century
    DVDs--California--Los Angeles--21st century
    DVDs--United States--Los Angeles--21st century
    Videotapes--California--Los Angeles--21st century
    Videotapes--United States--Los Angeles--21st century


    McMillan, Jerry, 1936-
    Patrick Painter Inc.
    Steidl, Gerhard, 1950-