Ed Ruscha

Gagosian | Beverly Hills

In a New York Times article from 1972 bluntly titled “‘I’m Not Really a Photographer,’” Ed Ruscha claimed he took up the practice only in order to make his books—among them, the now-seminal Twenty-Six Gasoline Stations (1963) and Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966)—and that his pictures should not be considered art objects but merely tools or means to an end. He focused on the photograph as a purveyor of technical data, believing it could bring a readymade object or site—a gas station, a swimming pool—into the realm of art without aestheticizing it. Offering an alternative to the fine-art print by presenting photographs in the context of mass production (the books originally went for three dollars), he had as radical an impact on the discipline as any photographer of the postwar period.

At least since 1993, when Walter Hopps published a 1961 Ruscha photo of outdoor signs in LA that

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the October 2003 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.