Ed Ruscha’s Word paintings:
As with Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, his East Coast counterparts, Ed Ruscha’s artistic training was rooted in commercial art. His interest in words and typography ultimately provided the primary subject of his paintings, prints and photographs. The very first of Ruscha’s word paintings were created as oil paintings on paper in Paris in 1961. Since 1964, Ruscha has been experimenting regularly with painting and drawing words and phrases, often oddly comic and satirical sayings alluding to popular culture and life in LA. When asked where he got his inspiration for his paintings, Ruscha responded, “Well, they just occur to me; sometimes people say them and I write down and then I paint them. Sometimes I use a dictionary.” From 1966 to 1969, Ruscha painted his “liquid word” paintings: Words such as Adios (1967), Steel (1967–9) and Desire (1969) were written as if with liquid spilled, dribbled or sprayed over a flat monochromatic surface. His gunpowder and graphite drawings (made during a period of self-imposed exile from painting from 1967 to 1970) feature single words depicted in a trompe l’oeil technique, as if the words are formed from ribbons of curling paper. Experimenting with humorous sounds and rhyming word plays, Ruscha made a portfolio of seven mixed-media lithographs with the rhyming words, News, Mews, Pews, Brews, Stews, Dues, News (1970).