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Ed Ruscha (b. 1937)

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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in lots consigned for sale which may include guaranteeing a minimum price or making an advance to the consignor that is secured solely by consigned property. This is such a lot. This indicates both in cases where Christie's holds the financial interest on its own, and in cases where Christie's has financed all or a part of such interest through a third party. Such third parties generally benefit financially if a guaranteed lot is sold successfully and may incur a loss if the sale is not successful.
Objects and Objectivity: Ruscha in the 1960s Within the Double Vision collection are three paintings from some of the most important and productive years of Ruscha's career. Two are from 1969, one from 1972. These pictures all show objects rather than the words with which Ruscha is more commonly associated. And all these objects are floating. Amphetamines; Marble, Amphetamine, Pencil and Large and Small Balls show common objects in a strange, anonymous space, floating just above a surface, their shadows a tiny distance below them. Are these all dropping? Or are they held in stasis, in some strange and impossible equilibrium? Certainly, the pictures convey a great sense of stillness, of poise, even. Ruscha is turning the spotlight of our attention towards objects that are conspicuously everyday, yet that have been imbued with a quality that is not everyday at all. The objects are painted in 'actual size' - Ruscha often measures the items before him in order to be wholly accurate in terms of scale. In this sense, there appears to be a distinctly pragmatic, realistic, feet-on-ground dimension to these portrayals of floating objects. Discussing his paintings of objects, Ruscha explained: 'It's a constant shifting of material: taking it out of context and putting it back in context; glorifying it in one way, and putting it in the background in another way... Maybe I like to say that there is really more to a subject than anyone else tends to acknowledge. Because, after all, it's an artist's job to do that despite the fact that you have to use tricks and devices in order to put that idea across. I like to give attention to the lonely paintbrush, or make a tribute to something that is humble, or something that does not require explanations. So some objects to me are stupid for that reason: tools and fastening devices. There are things that I'm constantly looking at that I feel should be elevated to greater status, almost to philosophical status or to a religious status... It's the concept of taking something that's not subject matter and making it subject matter' (Ruscha, quoted in R. D. Marshall, Ed Ruscha, London 2003, p. 133). This is a resuscitation of the common object. Ruscha has taken the Duchampian notion of the possibility for any object to be art and has applied it in a new and conspicuously understated manner. The billboard mentality which led to Ruscha painting words on other canvases has been turned to the world of the everyday, of the drugs cabinet and the stationery drawer, yet here there is none of the flashiness, no sense of the drama of advertisement. There is no Pop. Instead, Ruscha simply requests that the viewer contemplate pencils and pills anew. Ruscha always shunned the Pop tag. 'The term Pop art made me nervous and ambivalent,' he explained. 'It actually goes beyond painting. It was culture, and it was so many other modes of making art... A Pop artist can be anyone who has thrown over a recent set of values' (E. Ruscha, quoted in N. Benezra, 'Ed Ruscha: Painting and Artistic License', pp. 145-155 in N. Benezra and K. Brougher (ed.), Ed Ruscha, exh. cat., Washington D. C. 2000, p. 150). However, in the 1960s, his cousinship with Pop, his affinity with some of their aims, was already apparent, hence his inclusion in one of the first exhibitions, New Painting of Common Objects at the Pasadena Art Museum in 1962, where his works were shown alongside artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. By coincidence, it was also at the Pasadena Art Museum that Ruscha would be able meet Marcel Duchamp in person the following year, at the first retrospective given to the cryptic French artist. Duchamp had already been a major influence on Ruscha, and this encounter cemented that influence. Ruscha had initially come to know Duchamp's works not through any first-hand experience of his works but instead through books. He was thrilled by the possibilities that Duchamp opened up for the artist, reappraising the entire nature and status of the very real stuff of the world around us: 'Duchamp discovered common objects and showed you could make art out of them... He played with materials that were taboo to other artists at the time; defying convention was one of his greatest accomplishments' (Ruscha, quoted in ibid., p. 131). Ruscha took this starting point, but turned it in a new direction. The sense of a painting's objecthood which was so muddied in Jasper Johns' paintings had provided Ruscha with freedom, with precedent, with release even when he was a student of art. And it was this that allowed him to muddy the waters of representation and perception in his own paintings, not only in those showing words isolated, decontextualised, recomposed and reconceived, but also in the meticulous, painstakingly executed quasi-still life works showing the detritus of modern living hovering on a horizon.
Ed Ruscha (b. 1937)

Amphetamines; Marble

Details
Ed Ruscha (b. 1937) Amphetamines; Marble signed and dated 'E. Ruscha 1969' (on the reverse); signed, titled and dated 'AMPHETAMINES; MARBLE ED RUSCHA 1969' (on the stretcher) oil on canvas 20 x 24in. (50.8 x 61cm.) Painted in 1969
Provenance
Leo Castelli Gallery, New York.
Fabian Carlsson, Stockholm.
Janie C. Lee Gallery, Dallas
Anon. sale, Sotheby's New York, 7 October 1987, lot 112.
Marc Richards, Los Angeles (MRG95).
Aldis Brown Fine Arts, Venice.
Seibu Department Store, Tokyo.
Tony Shafrazi, New York.
Zwirner & Wirth, New York.
Anthony d'Offay, London (AO21742).
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2001.
Literature
R. Dean (ed.), Edward Ruscha: Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings, Volume One: 1958-1970, New York 2003, no. P1969.11 (illustrated in colour, p. 319).
Special Notice

No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in lots consigned for sale which may include guaranteeing a minimum price or making an advance to the consignor that is secured solely by consigned property. This is such a lot. This indicates both in cases where Christie's holds the financial interest on its own, and in cases where Christie's has financed all or a part of such interest through a third party. Such third parties generally benefit financially if a guaranteed lot is sold successfully and may incur a loss if the sale is not successful.
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