• Post-War & Contemporary Mornin auction at Christies

    Sale 2220

    Post-War & Contemporary Morning Session

    11 November 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 151

    Ed Ruscha (b. 1937)

    Sea of Desire

    Price Realised  


    Ed Ruscha (b. 1937)
    Sea of Desire
    Hot sauce on moiré
    20 x 24 in. (50.8 x 61 cm.)
    Executed in 1973.

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    Ed Ruscha is the quintessential chronicler of mid-century West Coast America and his iconic images have done much to define the idea of the West Coast for the rest of America and, indeed, the world. Along with Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Jim Dine, Ruscha's work was shown in the groundbreaking 'New Painting of Common Objects' exhibition in 1962, an event that gave birth to the "Pop Art" movement.

    Since 1964, Ruscha has been experimenting with painting and drawing words and phrases, often oddly comic and satirical sayings. He became fascinated with the idea of stains after seeing oil stains on the pavement and seeing them as an indicator of how many cars had parked there. He took this idea and used a range of materials from Bolognese sauce and axel grease through to black currant sauce and mango chutney to produce a series of works examining the properties of these types of marks. In Sea of Desire, he uses hot sauce and moiré to examine the properties of each medium with the pigment of the hot sauce gradually merging with the fabric to create a unification of materials. The present work's combination of words and medium provides more questions than answers and results in a playful comment on art and society that so fascinated Rushca and inspired his work.


    Ace Gallery, Los Angeles
    Gallery Moos, Toronto
    Ira Young, Vancouver
    Private collection
    Anon. sale; Sotheby's, New York, 2 November 1994, lot 232, sold after sale
    Galerie Ralph Wernicke, Berlin

    Pre-Lot Text



    M. Terbell, "Ruscha Stain Paintings," Artweek, 1973, p. 5.
    W. Wilson, "Artwalk," Los Angeles Times, 1973, p. IV-6.
    P. Failing, "Ed Ruscha, Young Artist," ARTnews, 1982, p. 80 (illustrated).
    R. Dean and E. Wright, Edward Rucha Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings Volume Two: 1971-1982, New York, 2005, pp. 128 and 129, no. P1973.30 (illustrated).


    Los Angeles, Ace Gallery, Ed Ruscha: New Works in Various Materials lus the 1969 Book of Stains, September-October 1973.