Ed Ruscha, Metro Mattress #4, 2015, Acrylic and pencil on museum board paper. 40 1/8 x 60 inches. Copyright Ed Ruscha, Courtesy of the artist, Gagosian Gallery and Sprueth Magers
Stephanie LaCava on Ed Ruscha’s Metro Mattresses
The following is from a letter Ed Ruscha wrote on February 25, 1966 to John Wilcock, a publisher who asked Ruscha to write about his books:
The only thing I can say about my books is that I have a certain blind faith in what I am doing… I am 28 and am mainly a painter (in Ferus stable). One important thing is that I do not cherish the print quality of a photograph. To me the pictures are only snapshots with only an average attention to clarity. The only distributor I have is Wittenborn’s in N.Y.C. They will actually buy a certain amount of books without consignment…
This is a charming prologue to an exemplary career. Fifty years later, it’s difficult to get a hold of Ruscha’s early books, and impossible save for a certain price. The books Ruscha made in the 60s and 70s are largely credited with a reinvention of the genre. They all feature photographs: images of gas stations, small fires, swimming pools, palm trees, cacti, LA apartments, buildings or parking lots, Dutch bridges, babies or film stills, and Ruscha’s record collection.
Unlike the others, Ruscha’s latest book, Metro Mattresses, features no photographs. Inside are twelve reproductions of the acrylic and pencil mattresses rendered on museum board paper as they were shown at last year’s Metro Mattresses exhibition. Ruscha and I emailed about Metro Mattresses last December, on his 79th birthday.
Ed Ruscha, Metro Mattress #8, 2015. Acrylic and pencil on museum board paper. 40 1/8 x 60 inches. Copyright Ed Ruscha, Courtesy of the artist, Gagosian Gallery and Sprueth Magers
STEPHANIE LACAVA: Is there an implied narrative in the mattresses?
ED RUSCHA: There is no story line with the arrangement of images in the book. These mattresses began catching my attention as I moved around the city, especially Hollywood. They became my “clown” paintings. Clown paintings, in general, might be universally detested for what they are, but I began seeing mattresses as sad, and yet humorous subjects like clowns.
Ed Ruscha, Metro Mattress #9, 2015, Acrylic and pencil on museum board paper. 40 1/8 x 60 inches. Copyright Ed Ruscha, Courtesy of the artist, Gagosian Gallery and Sprueth Magers
SLC: Why not photos of the mattresses?
ER: A shift from photographs to painted images gave me a vision of another kind. The images were pampered with paint rather than with a camera. However, this left the book with a feeling of street objects being interpreted within the confines of a studio rather than being grabbed from the street itself.
Ed Ruscha, Metro Mattress #4, 2015, Acrylic and pencil on museum board paper. 102 x 152,5 cm, 40 1/8 x 60 inches. Copyright Ed Ruscha, Courtesy of the artist, Gagosian Gallery and Sprueth Magers
SLC: What do you think is most vital and important about artist’s making books? Has this changed since you began your practice?
ER: I am wide awake when I see artist books. Here are people using actual ink on paper in the eventual age of total digital. For this reason I am retaining my hope and expectation of more books.
Material taken from the Roth Horowitz books on Photography put together by Andrew Roth in 1999.
People of tumblr land! If you like community projects, drawing/painting stuff, like being inspired by other artists, and want new topics to explore and prompt you… this project is for you!
The Sketchbook Swap is a community artists’ book project for creatives to get together and produce artwork for each other. Each artist chooses a book and a theme, draws on a few pages, and then mails it to another artist and receives a new book with a new theme (repeat). In the end you get your original sketchbook back filled with artwork and doodles from a talented group of creators!
I’m hoping to find roughly 25 motivated artists for this project, if you are interested, please keep reading below:
To be considered, please send me a note and link to your blog or a place where I can see your art! (Some people have submitted and only had 3 doodles or so, and that’s not enough to really make a decision)
Please submit by Dec. 12! A final list will be compiled before the new year, to give you time to determine your theme and your first book must be mailed out by Jan. 16th.
You can be located anywhere! As long as we can get mail to you!
You are responsible for your own shipping costs and getting the sketchbook to next person within the deadlines. If you feel like you will not be able to do either of these things, please don’t submit to this long term project (I will be doing smaller projects in the future that you may be perfect for!)
You may purchase or make your sketchbook so long as it fits these requirements: must be 5x7” or 12x18cm (or a size close to this), have approx. 50 sheets, and the paper weight must be at least 80 lb (130 gsm).
You may pick any theme you want for your book (so long as its not offensive), and also work in any medium you choose!
Lastly, not a rule, but it would be nice…. if you would photograph/scan your pages and post them up somewhere!
Anyone who has already been accepted in to the project: Please message me with your email address so I can add you to the GoogleDoc for the project!
We’re closing our celebration of Preservation Week with a book that shows us the value and impact of something we often take for granted. This excellent book traces economic networks in Athens, Ohio and shows the interconnected foodways that are such an vibrant and important part of this community.
“Experience has taught me that through direct relationships and interactions of support, people tend to care more about their part in the whole. It has shown me that we are interdependent. We do make individual choices but they are not made in isolation. Our everyday decisions affect those around us as they also create patterned ways of living — patterns that build the social and cultural environment that surrounds us.” - Artist Statement
Also…it’s VERY big.
Sometimes we take objects of unusual size into the collection. Here we’ve had to improvise when our backroom space didn’t quite cut it.
Artist Misty Thomas-Trout is showing us how to unpack and repack the components of her artists’ book, which consists of a network of threads moving across canvas.
Book Box : 26 in x 32 in : Reclaimed wood, used door hinges Map : 10 ft x 2.5 ft : Acrylic on canvas, embroidery floss, push pins, cork Legend Flash Cards : 4 in x 6 in : Digital print on 100% pcw envrionment smooth Printed Book : Book digitally printed on 100% pcw environment smooth, cover is a USGS Athens, Ohio Quadrangle, 2002