SAN FRANCISCO, CA: Crown Point Press announces Made in San Francisco, a survey exhibition of etchings made by Ed Ruscha at Crown Point from 1982 to 2014. On display July 12 – September 3, it presents thirty-nine prints, including two portfolios, shown together for the first time. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog with essays by Kathan Brown and Valerie Wade. Within Ruscha’s broader oeuvre, Made in San Francisco explores a dialogue between the artist’s lasting fondness for the medium of etching and his love for the city in which most of his etchings were made.
Since 1956 when he moved to California by driving across the country, Ruscha has found lasting inspiration in the American West. “It always involved driving a car, so that’s where the gas stations came from, that’s where sunsets came from, and it’s a combination of all kinds of things crushed into something….The western side of the U.S. has—there’s something—sunrise, sunset, hope for the future,” he explained in a recent interview. While he lives in Los Angeles, Ruscha continues to be inspired by the beauty and mystery of San Francisco. He has worked with Crown Point regularly over the last thirty-two years to produce etchings using the techniques of aquatint, photogravure, and soap ground, among others.
In the Los Francisco San Angeles 2001 portfolio, for example, Ruscha used soft ground etching to transpose Los Angeles streets onto San Francisco ones, creating landscapes expanding without horizons. Colored lines marked “Wilshire” and “La Brea” intersect with “Powell” and “Hyde” in one print. In an early series in 1988, Ruscha used aquatint to achieve a reversed silhouette of a lawn statue titled Jockey. In 2006, he used sugar lift flat bite with hard ground etching to create a towering billboard sign, reading “Public Market,” supported in the eponymous print by impossibly slender beams.
Ed Ruscha’s work spans the media of photography, painting, drawing, artist books, and prints. Born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1937, Ruscha has lived in Los Angeles since 1956, when he moved there from Oklahoma to attend the Chouinard Art Institute (now CalArts). Driving, whether across the American Southwest via Route 66 or along the winding roads of Europe, has provided Ruscha with a unique way of seeing and subsequently of producing artwork. Stylized Hollywood logos, unsentimental photographs of gas stations, archetypal images of popular culture, and laconic phrases show the artist’s ability to fold universal emotions into the vernacular of an American reality. Influenced by conceptual artist Marcel Duchamp, Ruscha’s approach to artmaking combines deadpan humor, an emphasis on ideas, and use of everyday objects. He has been the subject of major museum exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe, and his work is collected by museums worldwide. On view concurrently with Crown Point’s exhibition is Ed Ruscha and the Great American West at the de Young Museum, San Francisco (July 16 to October 9, 2016).
Made in San Francisco, Ed Ruscha Etchings: 1982-2014 is on display in the Crown Point Gallery at 20 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco from July 12 to September 3, 2016. A color catalog is available to purchase in our bookstore. The gallery hours are Monday 10-5 and Tuesday through Saturday 10-6.