Issue #184  10/13/2011
Ruscha Archive and Photos Goes to Getty

The J. Paul Getty Museum and the Getty Research Institute recently jointly acquired over 70 photographs by artist Ed Ruscha as well as his "Streets of Los Angeles" archive, including thousands of negatives, hundreds of photographic contact sheets, and related documents and ephemera. A portion of the material will come to the Getty as a promised gift from the artist.

An influential American artist, Ruscha moved to Los Angeles in 1956 and has continued to live and work there, incorporating the city's architecture, streets, and even its attitude into paintings, prints, drawings, and photographs that are known for their graphic directness.

This combined acquisition by the Getty Museum and the Getty Research Institute now makes the Getty Center one of the most important resources for understanding the role of photography in Ruschas practice and will make this aspect of the artists work more widely accessible, locally and internationally. "I am humbled and elated to have my work go to the top of the hill," said Ruscha.

The majority of the 74 photographs and two contact sheets acquired by the J. Paul Getty Museum were created in conjunction with the seminal series of self-published books that Ruscha began producing in 1962 including "Twentysix Gasoline Stations" (1963), "Some Los Angeles Apartments" (1965), "Thirtyfour Parking Lots in Los Angeles" (1967), and "Real Estate Opportunities" (1970).

The Streets of Los Angeles archive acquired by the Getty Research Institute (GRI) begins with the photographic and production material for Ruschas landmark 1966 book, "Every Building on the Sunset Strip", and includes the original camera-ready three-panel maquette used for the publication. This ongoing project subsequently evolved into a vast photographic archive that spans over four decades and documents many major Los Angeles thoroughfares, including Santa Monica Boulevard, Melrose Avenue, and Pacific Coast Highway, shot in 1974 and 1975, and more than 25 other Los Angeles streets that Ruscha photographed since 2007. In total, the archive comprises thousands of negatives, hundreds of photographic contact sheets, and related documents and ephemera. Also included is an artists proof of the "Then and Now" portfolio (2005), based on photographs of Hollywood Boulevard taken 30 years apart.

The acquisition joins works by Ruscha already in the collection of the GRI, including unpublished photographs related to Ruscha's rare "Dutch Details" book (1973) and the only known complete run of "Orb", a journal edited and produced by Ruscha while still a student at Chouinard Art Institute.

A selection of works will be included in two related Getty Museum exhibitions scheduled for Spring 2013: Los Angeles Architecture: 1940-1990, organized by the Getty Research Institute and the Getty Museum, and In Focus: Ed Ruscha, organized by the Getty Museum.