Ed Ruscha Books & Co

5 March – 27 April, Gagosian Madison Avenue, New York

Interior view of Thirtyfour Parking Lots on Google Earth by Hermann Zschiegner. © Hermann Zschiegner. Photo: Robert McKeever. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.

We may be in the age of the e-book but the continuing popularity and influence of Ed Ruscha's, cheaply made, conceptual photo-books, produced during the 1960s and 1970s, proves that there is still a strong desire for the book as a physical, rather than merely a readable object. In 1962 Ruscha created his first photo-book, Twentysix Gasoline Stations, which contained nothing but captioned, black-and-white-images of the titular filling stations located on Route 66, Between LA and Oklahoma. A series of related titles followed, including Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966), Nine Swimming Pools and a Broken Glass (1968) and Real Estate Opportunities (1970). Not only did Ruscha alter the aesthetic of the artist book, but inspired other artists, architects and photographers to create their own photo-books which, in different ways, directly referenced Ruscha's works, among them Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations (1992), by Jeff Brouws and Various Blank Pages (2009) by Doro Boehme and Erik Baskauskas. 

To coincide with the publication (by MIT) of Various Small Books: Referencing Various Small Books by Ed Ruschawhich describes and contextualises 90 of the 100 or so books created in response to Ruscha, this exhibition at Gagosian brings together both Ruscha's original books and the related publications, with the majority of the works installed so that viewers can browse through the pages.

On Wednesday 6 March at 7pm Ed Ruscha will be live in conversation with Paul Holdengräber at New York Public Library