This work will be included in the forthcoming Edward Ruscha Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, edited by Robert Dean and Erin Wright.
Ed Ruscha departed from his West Coast surroundings and source imagery when he began to appropriate imagery of the Himalayan Mountains in his work of the late 1990s. These bold, colorful mountain ranges served as an arbitrary background for his traditional subject, text, but nonetheless maintained the visual dominance of the composition. Ruscha likened the pairing of mountain and text to the famous Paramount Studios mountain logo and thus subliminal references to the Hollywood culture in which the artist lives. Although the earliest Mountain paintings featured both images and text, Mount Something-or-Other, 2004, represents his more recent version of the series, which elimimates the words within the composition and, in this case, the name of the mountain in the title as well.
Ruscha began his wordless compositions in the late 1980s, always taking his subjects from the familiar repertoire of American culture. The Brave Men series replaced text with empty boxes which effectively censored the artist's message. By removing the familiar text as a point of reference, canvases such as Mount Something-or-Other provoke active viewer participation to interpret these familiar icons without explicit context or literal references. The relationship between title and background is now the sole point of reference for meaning to be ascertained and "Something-or-Other" gives even less concrete direction. The subsequent effect of wordless canvases such as Mount Something-or-Other is consistent with Ruscha's most iconic works; a reductive yet playful synthesis of nostalgia and personal emotion although the artist himself has termed the wordless images more "mysterious."