PRINT September 1963


Edward Ruscha’s Twenty-Six Gasoline Stations

Edward Ruscha, Twenty-Six Gasoline Stations. “400 copies printed in April, 1963, by the Cunningham Press, Alhambra, California.”

IT IS PERHAPS UNFAIR to write a review of a book which, by now, is probably completely unavailable. But the book is so curious, and so doomed to oblivion that there is an obligation, of sorts, to document its existence, record its hav­ing been here, in the same way, almost, as other pages record and document the ephemeral existence of exhibitions which are mounted, shown, and then broken up forever.

“Twenty-six Gasoline Stations,” is a book consisting of 26 photographs of gasoline stations in various parts of America. There is no text of any kind. Each photograph is carefully captioned with only the most essential informa­tion: “Flying A, Kingman, Arizona.” The photographs are not professional—most of them are not even good.

Ruscha is a young pop artist whose work, incidentally, does not particularly relate to gasoline stations. “Twenty-six Gasoline Stations” is a pop-art book. Captioned soberly are “reproductions” of 26 works of art. Not quite a joke, the idea is at least as complex as the puns and issues posed by Duchamp’s urinal; we are irritated and annoyed by the act, but feel compel led to resolve the ques­tions it raises. The urinal resolved in favor of Duchamps; for Ruscha and the movement he represents, the issue is still in doubt.

Philip Leider