Edward Ruscha, American, born 1937

Made in United States, North and Central America


Gunpowder with erasing on wove paper

Sheet: 22 15/16 x 29 inches (58.3 x 73.7 cm)

© Edward Ruscha, courtesy Gagosian Gallery

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the Lola Downin Peck Fund and the Carl and Laura Zigrosser Collection (by exchange), 1998

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In 1959 Edward Ruscha used flat, conventional typefaces for his first word pieces, meticulously rendering found words and phrases, which caused them to assume unexpected poetic, associative, or narrative connotations. By the mid-1960s he developed a new series called "wet words." In drawings such as Pool, the word seems to have been formed by the sudden splashing of liquid on the paper. Ruscha achieved this apparently accidental effect using a painstaking technique: he faintly sketched the image and incised the outlines on paper, then brushed on delicate layers of gunpowder wash and gunpowder, scraping out and erasing to create the areas of highlight.