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INVENTORY OF THE EDWARD RUSCHA PHOTOGRAPHS OF LOS ANGELES STREETS, 1974-2010
2012.M.2  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Related Archival Materials
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Edward Ruscha photographs of Los Angeles streets
    Date (inclusive): 1974-2010
    Number: 2012.M.2
    Creator/Collector: Ruscha, Edward
    Physical Description: 35.0 linear feet (28 boxes)
    Repository:
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: The collection is comprised of Edward Ruscha's ongoing photographic documentation of Los Angeles thoroughfares. Included are shoots of three streets made in the 1970s: Santa Monica Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway, 1974; and Melrose Avenue, 1975; and over 40 shoots made since 2007. These shoots represent more than twenty-five streets including Sepulveda, Pico, Olympic, Wilshire, La Cienega, and Beverly boulevards.
    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.

    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

    Access

    Open for use by qualified researchers. Film negative and positive reels are unavailable due to conservation concerns.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Edward Ruscha Photographs of Los Angeles Streets, 1974-2010, Getty Research Institute, Research Library, Accession no. 2012.M.2.

    Acquisition Information

    Promised gift of Ed Ruscha.

    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 Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard collection, Special Collection accession number 2012.M.1.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The collection is comprised of Edward Ruscha's ongoing photographic documentation of Los Angeles thoroughfares. This material demonstrates Ruscha's interest in producing an almost comprehensive representation of the city's main streets. Included are shoots of three streets made in the 1970s: Santa Monica Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway, 1974; and Melrose Avenue, 1975; and over 40 streets shot since 2007. These later shoots represent more than twenty-five streets including Sepulveda, Pico, Olympic, Wilshire, La Cienega, and Beverly Boulevards. Some shoots record groups or "suites" of streets such as the Chinatown, La Brea, and Silverlake areas.
    The shoots from the 1970s are represented primarily by strip negatives and corresponding [?] contact sheets (approximately 10,500 negatives and circa 100 contact sheets containing approximately 9,800 frames). Documentation consists primarily of relevant pages photocopied from the production notebooks found in box 7 of the Getty Research Institute's companion collection, Edward Ruscha Photographs of Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard, 1965-2000, accession number 2012.R.1.
    From 2007 onward Ruscha generally shot a street over a period of two days. Each day is represented by a negative reel (49 reels total). The two negative reels for each day were then combined by the Los Angeles film lab FotoKem in a single positive reel (24 reels total). Documentation for each shoot consists primarily of cue and footage sheets and invoices from the FotoKem labs.

    Arrangement

    The collection is arranged chronologically by shoot date.

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Topics

    Streets--United States--Los Angeles

    Subjects - Places

    La Brea Avenue (Los Angeles, Calif.)--Description and travel
    Los Angeles (Calif.)--Description and travel
    Melrose Avenue (Los Angeles, Calif.)--Description and travel
    Pacific Coast Highway--Description and travel
    Santa Monica Boulevard (Los Angeles, Calif.)--Description and travel
    Silver Lake (Los Angeles, Calif.)--Description and travel
    Sunset Boulevard (Los Angeles, Calif.)--Description and travel
    Wilshire Boulevard (Los Angeles, Calif.)--Description and travel

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Black-and-white negatives--California--Los Angeles--20th century
    Compact discs--California--Los Angeles--20th century
    Contact sheets--California--Los Angeles--20th century
    Photographic film (photographic materials)--California--Los Angeles--20th century
    Photographic film (photographic materials)--California--Los Angeles--21st century