Even though Ed Ruscha didn’t make Vanity Fair’s list for top six living artists, he is nevertheless an important figure in the trajectory of art of the past four decades. I suggest that everyone who is in New York City this summer (or through May 2015) check out his monumental text painting that is located on West 22nd Street, adjacent to Chelsea’s High Line Park. The text, which reads “Honey, I twisted through more damn traffic today,” employs Ruscha’s signature text painting aesthetic (white sans-seriff typeface set against a pink and purple gradient) and humor, but with a twist. The painting, or should I say mural, is applied directly to the wall of a building, injecting the conceptual theme of temporality (remember Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings) into an otherwise Pop sensibility (Ruscha employs familiar vernacular similar to how Warhol and Lichtenstein employed popular imagery in their works). Moreover, this work, unlike Ruscha’s other works that are characteristically “Los Angeles,” abandons this bicoastal dichotomy in favor for something that is applicable to both coasts. New York and Los Angeles are both symbols of mobility as cars and public transportation are inextricably tied to the cultural identities of these two very different cities. Here, Ruscha bridges the gap between the city that inspires him and that that he tried to avoid when his career first began (Ruscha has been quoted as having tried to avoid the aesthetics of his contemporary prevailing New York artists, especially in the 1960s and 70s).
This is Ruscha’s first public commission in New York City. He now joins an impressive list of artists who have exhibited on the High Line, including: photographers Ryan McGinley and Elad Lassry, John Baldessari, Richard Artschwager, among others. I’ve attached a link to more information and images below. I got to see the work as one that was in progress last week, but I’m definitely looking forward to going back and seeing the finished-product.