new-york

Edward Ruscha

Iolas Gallery

Looking at Edward Ruscha’s latest collection of illusionistic word paintings at the Iolas Gallery, one is forced to deal with the inflections of a very private, odd, and wry sense of humor, which, however, is based on a straightforward, almost dumbly systematic method of collecting, enumerating, and recording selected material and images. This treatment of his subjects is in the surreal tradition of René Magritte, but commercial art techniques are also injected, so that the humorous jolts are often as unsettling in their own genre, as the Belgian master’s more fiercely psychological imagery. If one is already familiar with Ruscha’s series of small books (26 Gasoline Stations, Hollywood Apartment Houses, 9 Swimming Pools, Business Cards, Crackers, and a new one called Stains), and with some of his earlier pictures of words formed out of ribbon-like script executed in airbrushed gunpowder,

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