New American Paintings/Blog


Psycho Spaghetti Westerns: Ed Ruscha at Gagosian Beverly Hills by openstudiospress
March 21, 2011, 12:15 pm
Filed under: Art World, Features, Los Angeles | Tags: , , , ,

Psycho Spaghetti Western #9, 2010-2011 | Acrylic on canvas, 64 x 80 inches. © Ed Ruscha. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.

Tucked away in a busy corner of Beverly Hills, a stone’s throw from the clamor of Rodeo Drive, is Gagosian‘s mammoth new Los Angeles space. Within it is housed Ed Ruscha‘s first painting show in LA in a staggering twelve years. It’s a major homecoming, and the ten wide, horizontal works exhibited here, known affectionately as Psycho Spaghetti Westerns, represent not so much a departure for Ruscha, but rather a means by which to further contextualize his previous bodies of work while doing what he does best: laconically re-examining America. —Evan J. Garza, Editor-at-Large

Psycho Spaghetti Western #6, 2010-2011 | Acrylic on canvas, 70 x 108 inches. © Ed Ruscha. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.

More than any other American artist in the last 50 years, Ruscha has made a career of redefining the American landscape. His Course of Empire series, which represented the United States at the 51st Venice Biennale in 2005 and was later exhibited at The Whitney, is the source material in a sense for Psycho Spaghetti Westerns, which are mildly abstracted, detritus-filled extensions of his acclaimed 2005 series. Course of Empire was itself a new take on a previous series, taking the old manufacturing buildings of Ruscha’s Blue Collar Paintings of the early ’90s (and their angled perspective), and allegorizing the changes of globalism and economic decline.

A master of both Americana and consistency, Ruscha and his new Psycho Spaghetti Westerns don’t stray too far from the same idea. The angles of the diagonal rooftops depicted in his two previous bodies of work appear revisited here in the form of ‘slippery slopes,’ with nearly all works at Gagosian featuring various forms of debris clinging to diagonal inclines that traverse entire paintings. This technique is not uncommon to Ruscha’s work and dates back to the Standard Stations paintings of the 1960s. Waterlogged cardboard boxes, destroyed tire fragments, and piles of demolished personal belongings dot each composition here, as if left behind by some unidentified natural disaster. Fields of implied texture mark each slanted bit of land, executed in much the same style as his famous mountainscapes, and effectively abstracting (and representing) landscape.


Psycho Spaghetti Western #5, 2010-2011 | Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 110 inches. © Ed Ruscha. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.

Here, Ruscha’s masterful examinations of American iconography operate as both still life and statement. Having charted the economic and cultural exploits of the States for more than 50 years, Ruscha and his Psycho Spaghetti Westerns reveal as much about the progression of his own work as they do about the state of America, which appears here as one big (beautiful) heaping pile of shit. They examine the effects of both nature and culture, but in either case it appears the damage is done.


Psycho Spaghetti Western #7, 2010-2011 | Acrylic on canvas, 70 x 138 inches. © Ed Ruscha. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.

Psycho Spaghetti Western #8, 2010-2011 | Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 110 inches. © Ed Ruscha. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.

© Ed Ruscha. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photography by the Douglas M. Parker Studio.

© Ed Ruscha. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photography by the Douglas M. Parker Studio.

© Ed Ruscha. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photography by the Douglas M. Parker Studio.


Evan J. Garza is Editor-at-Large for New American Paintings and NewAmericanPaintings.com/Blog. He is a critic and independent curator.

Advertisements

Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s



%d bloggers like this: