According to Wade, print purchasers care less about the era in which the prints were made than their subject matter. Collectors prefer certain phrases “that make them smile or ponder”; Wade named a repeated motif, “Cold Beer Beautiful Girls,” as a perennial favorite. “His pop references appeal across generations,” she said. Ruscha “definitely has an allure. He’s so associated with L.A. and the Cool School and Hollywood. He’s a legend, really.”
Despite—or, perhaps, because of—the cheekiness of his work, Ruscha has long enjoyed broad appeal. As Ferus represented him on the West Coast, iconic dealer Leo Castelli began showing Ruscha in New York. In Los Angeles, the artist found loyal collectors in the scions of the Max Factor makeup fortune—Don and Lynn Factor, and Monte and Betty Factor. Other early, prominent regional collectors included Betty Asher and Jo Ann and Julian Ganz Jr.
Yet it took a few decades for Ruscha to reach the global acclaim he enjoys today. Gagosian took Ruscha onto its roster in 1993 and began building his reputation at a different scale than Castelli could. Throughout the 2000s, global institutions and major art world affairs boosted Ruscha’s profile (and market value): He represented the United States in the 2005 Venice Biennale, and enjoyed solo exhibitions at the Hayward Gallery
in London and the Moderna Museet
in Stockholm in 2009 and 2010, respectively.