Ed Ruscha

Course of Empire

Edited by Christopher Riopelle; With essays by Tom McCarthy and Daniel F. Herrmann

View Inside Price: $25.00

August 14, 2018
48 pages, 12 1/4 x 9 3/4
30 color illus.
ISBN: 9781857096323
HC - Paper over Board

Published by National Gallery Company, London/Distributed by Yale University Press

Over the span of his six-decade career, Ed Ruscha (b. 1937) has created a distinctively stylized vision of the modern American landscape of gas stations, highways, and industrial buildings. Incorporating text, stark typography, and commercial logos, the artist’s multivalent images both portray and interrogate the contemporary world’s relentlessly packaged environment. By placing Ruscha’s celebrated Course of Empire—a ten-painting installation originally created for the 2005 Venice Biennale—in dialogue with Thomas Cole’s five-picture cycle The Course of Empire from the 1830s, this catalogue offers a fresh perspective on each of these disparate masterpieces. Unlike Cole’s grandiose vision of the rise and fall of classical civilization, Ruscha’s work comprises five black-and-white Los Angeles landscapes made in 1992 paired with color representations of the same sites as they appeared ten years later and draws attention to how often-overlooked changes in the evolving urban landscape are redolent of economic might and globalization or decline and stagnation.

Christopher Riopelle is the Neil Westreich Curator of Post-1800 Paintings and Daniel F. Herrmann is curator of special projects, both at the National Gallery, London. Tom McCarthy is a British writer and artist.


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