Ed Ruscha Mountain Prints At Gagosian Geneva

Jet Baby, 2011, lithograph, 29 × 28 inches (73.7 × 71.1 cm), Color Trial Proof 15. © Edward Ruscha. Photo by Alan Shaffer.
Jet Baby, 2011, lithograph, 29 × 28 inches (73.7 × 71.1 cm), Color Trial Proof 15. © Edward Ruscha. Photo by Alan Shaffer.

I had a notion to make pictures by using words and presenting them in some way and it seemed like a mountain was an archetypal stage set. It was a perfect foil for whatever was happening in the foreground.
–Ed Ruscha

Gagosian Geneva is presenting the first exhibition exclusively devoted to Ed Ruscha’s Mountain Prints.

More than ten years after the original motif appeared in the distinctive Mountain paintings, Ruscha began producing complementary prints in 2010. Mountain Prints comprises color trial, separation, and cancellation proofs, as well as numbered editions from the limited-edition series; it is a rare opportunity to witness Ruscha’s processual experiments in the print medium.

While attending Chouinard Art Institute (now CalArts) in 1958, Ruscha began an apprenticeship with Saul Marks at Plantin Press in Los Angeles, summoned to the print medium by a desire for experimental collaboration and a commitment to reproducibility. Since 1960, screenprints, lithographs, and etchings have been a key part of his oeuvre. After a collaboration over many decades, Ruscha established Hamilton Press with Tamarind master printer Ed Hamilton in 1990 to focus on traditional lithography. Mountain Prints suggests the ways in which the open exchange of skills and insights has impacted his punchy compositions.

The prints on view are both works from the numbered edition as well as proofs produced between 2010 and 2015 at Hamilton Press. Square-format paper accentuates the central placement of text, each word occupying a new line in contrast to the perspectival recession of the snow-capped mountains. Ruscha has superimposed text upon landscape in his paintings since the 1980s, juxtaposing the symbolic stimulus of the image with text as an atmosphere of speech, sound, and shape. In Mountain Prints, cryptic and humorously banal phrases in white letters, such as “Sponge Puddle” and “Bliss Bucket,” interrupt the harmony of the stock scenic backdrop. The print process imbues the landscape image with a granular, graphic tactility amplified by vivid combinations of cerulean and cobalt blue, plum, pewter, tawny, and tangerine inks. Subtle mutations between prints recount the active and constant negotiation between artist and printer, author and craftsman. Like the partnership between Hamilton and Ruscha, the achievement of the Mountain Prints proofs is their merger of content and form.

* * * * *


Exhibition Dates: April 6 – May 28, 2016
Opening Reception: Tuesday, April 5, 6-8pm


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *