Learn about unusual, out-of-print Ed Ruscha books and catalogues in stock at Oklahoma Contemporary
In 2019, Ed Ruscha broke his own record: His painting Hurting the Word Radio #2 brought in $52.4 million at a Christie’s auction. (His previous top sale: Smash for $30.4 in 2014.)
Is an original work by Oklahoman’s most-important irreverent artist out of your price range? Becca West and Garrett Colton (retail lead and manager, respectively) at Shop Contemporary have you covered with a variety of unique products tied to Ed Ruscha: OKLA. To start, you can snag a limited-run iconic Oklahoma-E tee (created through an unusual collaboration with Entireworld) or poster.
Or maybe a book is more your style. Many of the books in stock at the Shop were donated by Ruscha himself. “These were actually at his studio at one point,” West says. It’s a unique selection: “Most of them are out of print or past catalogues that he’s done. We have quite a few, and they’re really interesting and all very different.”
Colton is himself a collector of Ruscha ephemera and has brought in some of his mementos to add to the conversation. “Not many people know this, but Ed was really critical in kind of creating the importance of the art book itself,” he says.
Catch the retail duo talking about their favorites in the video below or dive into this list of some of the printed offerings.
Ruscha at Shop Contemporary
The shop's OKLA inventory included the artist book Road Tested, which features 50 works that span the artist’s entire career, inspired by his love of driving and the automobile. It also takes a look at the not-often-seen film Miracle, which is on view in OKLA.
A “deadpan cataloguing of Los Angeles’ functional architecture” fills Ed Ruscha & Some LA Apartments.
They Call Her Styrene compiles 600 word drawings into a “sort of novel without an obvious plot,” a series of words with no narrative.
Also on shelves are a slew of exhibition catalogues, some rare and many hard to find, that showcase interesting, narrowly focused series (like an entire exhibition that looks at broken panes of glass or another that features all mattresses, all the time), specific styles of work and/or media, and shows from across the world. They include:
- Ace Radio Honk Boss (Craig F. Starr Gallery, New York)
- Eilshemius and Me (Gagosian Gallery, London), which examines the influence of American painter Louis Michel Eilshemius
- Mixmaster (Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli in Turin, Italy), showcasing the artist's often unpublished drawings, photographs and paintings alongside objects and artifacts usually hidden in the deposits of Turin's museums, archives and libraries
- Karma (Gagosian Gallery, New York), which includes a series of small-scale bleach on linen paintings: cryptic messages stained into muted backgrounds of gray, blue and maroon linen
- Busted Glass (Gagosian, London), which depicts with delicate precision panes of glass that have been cracked, broken or are in shards
- Metro Mattresses (Sprüth Magers, Berlin), in which “we encounter a mattress, or mattresses, isolated and in various states of neglect, all depicted against a neutral backdrop”
- Birds, Fish and Offspring (C&M Arts, New York), in which you’ll find, unsurprisingly, 12 works (produced between 1963 and 1965) that include birds and fish
- Ribbon Words (Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art, New York), demonstrating how Ruscha's paper ribbons became three-dimensional, illusionistic objects
- Psycho Spaghetti Westerns (Gagosian, Beverly Hills), featuring paintings in which landscapes divide background from foreground to provide “a near-neutral picture plane for meticulously rendered still lifes in which incidental trash — tire shreds, beer cans, construction materials, packaging and discarded mattresses — provide for reflection on the transformation of things by nature or culture”
- Presale of our Ed Ruscha: OKLA catalogue, which will feature gorgeous installation photos of the 70+ works that illuminate the artist’s ties to Oklahoma along with essays by co-curators Dr. Alexandra Schwartz and Jeremiah Matthew Davis, an art historical essay by Dr. Kirsten Olds, and a personal essay and poem by Ron Padgett.
The shop, of course, reflects the both quirky and important works two floors up. Ruscha's artist books Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1963), Various Small Fires and Milk (1964), Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966), Royal Road Test (1967) and Records (1971) are on view in our Main Gallery. And in our Learning Gallery, guests can practice some bookmaking of their own.
“We hope you’ll come see this really important and incredible Ed Ruscha hometown retrospective,” Colton says. “It’s a really special show, and we hope to chat with you and share some stories.”
Images: Every Building on the Sunset Strip, 1966. Artist’s book, offset printed. Closed: 7 1/8 x 5 3/4 x 3/8 in. Open: 7 1/16 x 297 in. Ed. of 1,000. Collection of the artist. © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Alex Marks. Retail Lead Becca West and Retail Manager Garrett Colton. Photo: Dennis Spielman. Ed Ruscha catalogues. Photos: Dennis Spielman.
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