Noise, Pencil, Broken Pencil, Cheap Western (Primary Title)
“I wish I’d kept some of my better-known works. I weep over that . . . I consider [this painting] my best one . . . It embodies the aesthetics of all my work.” —Ed Ruscha
Ruscha’s training in commercial art—layout, lettering, and design—is often cited as an influence on his work. Its clean lines, clear colors, and subjects borrowed from commerce and popular culture resemble much in Pop Art. But Ruscha’s work stands between Pop Art and Conceptual Art because of the important role words play and the way the image involves the viewer in interpreting an open-ended narrative.
Here a visual element anchors each edge of the painting, but this careful tension has been broken by the snapped pencil on the right. The word “noise” expands toward the center, as if increasing in volume, and suggests the sound of the pencil breaking.
Pop to Popism, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, November 1, 2014 – March 1, 2015
Edward Ruscha, Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., June 22 – September 17, 2000; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL, November 11, 2000 – February 5, 2001; Modern Art Museum, Ft. Worth, FL, July 1 - Sept 30, 2001
California Classics: Art from the 1960s and 1970s, Bayly Art Museum, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, April 19 – June 16, 1991
Bedford Gallery, Longwood College, Farmville, VA, January 17 – February 19, 1988
The Works of Edward Ruscha, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA, March 25 – May 30, 1982; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, July 8 – September 5, 1982; Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada, October 4 – November 28, 1982; San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio, TX, December 27, 1982 – February 20, 1983; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA, March 21 – May 15, 1983
Art in Los Angeles: Seventeen Artists in the Sixties, L.A. County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA, July 16 – October 4, 1981; San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio, TX, November 20, 1981 – January 31, 1982
American Pop Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, April 5 – June 14, 1974
West Coast 1945 - 1969, Pasadena Art Museum, Pasadena, CA, November 1969 – January 1970
Pop Art, Hayward Gallery, London, July – August 1969
The Fellows: A Selection, Pasadena Art Museum, Pasadena, CA, March – April 1969
Joe Goode and Edward Ruscha, Balboa Pavilion Gallery, Newport Beach, CA, 1968
Edward Ruscha, Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, 1963
 Object 85.439 was included at a solo show at Ferus Gallery in 1963. Poncy, Pat, ed. Edward Ruscha Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings. Vol. I. New York: Gagosian Gallery, 2003.
 Provenance provided in the auction catalogue for Contemporary Art sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, May 18, 1979.
 Work listed under various properties. Contemporary Art. Christie, Manson & Woods, May 18, 1979. New York: Christie, Manson & Woods International, 1979.
 Lot # 137, Christie, Manson & Woods, New York, May 18, 1979.
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