• Edward Ruscha, Standard Station with Ten-Cent Western Being Torn in Half, 1964, oil on canvas, 65 x 121 1/2".

    Ed Ruscha: Road Tested

    Modern Art Museum | Fort Worth
    3200 Darnell Street
    January 23–April 17, 2011

    Curated by Michael Auping

    In Ed Ruscha’s 1967 artist’s book Royal Road Test, language hits the highway. Through photos that resemble crime scene evidence, it documents the aftermath of defenestrating a typewriter from a moving Buick, a caper that synthesized two of the artist’s enduring preoccupations—words and roads. While Ruscha’s linguistic endeavors have been ably examined in exhibition and criticism alike, this show is the first to consider the automotive as a through-line in his work. It is most apparent as subject, in images of streets and maps, filling stations and car grilles. Yet, as the exhibition’s ninety paintings, drawings, photographs, books, and prints confirm, the theme also registers on the level of medium—in panoramic perspectives that imply a vantage behind the windshield—and procedure: “Road testing,” with its connotations of trial and experiment, is an apt figure for Ruscha’s half century (and counting) of restless innovation.