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Edward Ruscha

Hudson, Amarillo, Texas


about this work

Twenty-six Gasoline Stations is often cited as a landmark in the history of artist’s books, and is the first of Edward Ruscha’s innovations in the genre. The book’s title announces its contents: a set of black-and-white photographs of filling stations, taken along Route 66 on trips between Oklahoma, Ruscha’s home state, and Los Angeles, where he has lived since 1956. The images are intentionally flat-footed, even amateurish, made without heed for compositional or aesthetic conventions; some are oddly cropped, and others are out of focus. Ruscha had the book offset printed in a first edition of 400, and gave copies away for free or sold them at a nominal price. Twenty-six Gasoline Stations belongs to the American tradition of laconic snapshot photography that includes Walker Evans and Robert Frank, and its vernacular American subject matter also connects it to Pop art. At the same time, however, the project’s serial structure, deadpan presentation, and book format anticipated the strategies of Conceptual art, which emerged as a new paradigm during the late 1960s.

Edward Ruscha, Hudson, Amarillo, Texas, 1962, from Twentysix Gasoline Stations, 1963  2004.474
Edward Ruscha, Hudson, Amarillo, Texas, 1962, from Twentysix Gasoline Stations, 1963. Gelatin silver print, 4 11/16 × 5 in. (11.9 × 12.7 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from The Leonard and Evelyn Lauder Foundation, and Diane and Thomas Tuft  2004.474 For Teachers
© Ed Ruscha