New York

View of “Ed Ruscha,” 2018–19. From left: Honk [#2], 1964; Securing the Last Letter (Boss), 1964. Photo: Dan Bradica.

Ed Ruscha

Craig F. Starr Gallery

Ed Ruscha has been using words as the subjects of his paintings, drawings, and prints since the early 1960s. Remarkably, none of his succinct verbalizations have been identified with the artist the way Ma jolie, 1911–12; L.H.O.O.Q., 1919; and The Treachery of Images, 1928–29, are associated, respectively, with Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, and René Magritte. Focused on the years 1961 to 1964 and particularly on the artist’s use of the words ace, radio, honk, and boss, the exhibition at Craig F. Starr Gallery brought New Yorkers back to the Los Angeles–based artist’s origin story. That’s when Ruscha, in his early twenties, first began using language, rather than representational imagery or abstract forms, in his art.

From the outset, Ruscha depicted words with multiple associations, many of which relate to the senses, evoking sound, smell, taste, and touch. Take honk, which calls to mind

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