Large Trademark with Eight Spotlights
Oil, house paint, ink, and graphite pencil on canvas
Overall: 66 15/16 × 133 1/8in. (170 × 338.1 cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Mrs. Percy Uris Purchase Fund
Rights and reproductions
© Ed Ruscha
Ed Ruscha’s background in commercial illustration and advertising inspired paintings of vernacular subjects such as Large Trademark with Eight Spotlights of 1962. With its long horizontal format, the canvas evokes both movie screen and billboard. One of the Hollywood film industry’s best-known logos—Twentieth Century Fox—occupies the pictorial field like the opening credit of a movie, receding in sharp perspective and illuminated by yellow spotlights against the dark background of the night. The bold, three-dimensional letters and yellow klieg rays telegraph the dominance of the movie industry in Los Angeles while also gesturing to an increasing standardization of cultural icons (which have become, as Ruscha’s title suggests, simply “trademarks”). As in Andy Warhol’s work of this period, the pictorial strategies of graphic design and advertising have displaced the traditional compositional structures of painting.