How Ed Ruscha, Anish Kapoor, and Co. Sum Themselves Up in 7 Words

Artsy Editorial
Jul 17, 2013 1:30PM

In 1870, Mark Twain embarked on the oh-so-daunting task of penning an autobiography—failed at many attempts—and by 1904 began a three-year mission to dictate his life story (from bed, clothed in a Persian-patterned silk dressing gown) through some 2,000 pages of text. It may pain the late writer to learn, a century later, of the modern 140-character-or-less information exchange, and particularly, the 7-word-autobiographies trending at the New York Public Library under the brilliance of curator and writer Paul Holdengräber. Read on for Ed Ruscha’s short-list of selves, reminiscent of his text-based works, and Anish Kapoor’s one-line bio—as sparse as the distinctly simple materials he’s now beloved for.

Ed Ruscha:

“Lapsed catholic
Newspaper carrier
Sign painter
Printer’s devil

Anish Kapoor:

“As if to celebrate I discovered a mountain”

Brian Eno:

“I like making and thinking about culture.”

David Byrne:

“unfinished, unprocessed, uncertain, unknown, unadorned, underarms, underpants, unfrozen, unsettled, unfussy”

Hans Ulrich Obrist:

Protest against forgetting”


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