PRINT May 2008



PERHAPS THEY WOULD PREFER to forget the past and enjoy the present (whose transience they are so much more aware of than younger colleagues), but circumstances conspire to make successful artists of a certain age dwell on their history: retrospective exhibitions, monographs, compilations of writings and interviews, the queries of art historians for whom each speck of memory might be the one that yields a dissertation chapter—such things make it inevitable that, willy-nilly, the artist finds his own past increasingly occupying his attention. I DON’T WANT NO RETRO SPECTIVE, an Ed Ruscha drawing once complained. But of course the artist has had his share. Making the best of the situation, Ruscha has lately been using his earlier work as source material. For his exhibition at the United States pavilion at the Fifty-first Venice Biennale in 2005, he accordingly presented no retrospective,

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