Food for thought

He speaks politely and openly to studio visitors about his work, although he rarely seems to say what the more philosophical among them want to hear. This kind of visitor, usually from out of town, believes that artistic issues such as literal vs. depicted space, the muse of mathematical composition systems, transubstantiation of word and image, non-narrative discourse, and the objectification of vernacular speech all have something to do with Ruscha’s work.

But in responding to questions about, say, the a priori numerical field defined in his book Twentysix Gasoline Stations, Ruscha tends to change the subject discreetly.

“You know, what really interested me about that project,” he might reply, “was the sound of the number ‘26.’ I really like the number ‘26,’ and I wanted to do something with ‘26’ in it.”

Patricia Failing, “Edward Ruscha, Young Artist: Dead Serious About Being Nonsensical” Art News, April 1982.