They Called Her Styrene, Etc.
Los Angeles-based artist Ed Ruscha, one of the seminal American artists of the past 30 years, is known for taking elements from the visual language of advertising and commercial art: he has made hundreds of "word" prints, drawings, and paintings that exhibit an interplay between bold letters and softly shaded, atmospheric backgrounds.
This book reproduces close to 600 "word" artworks by Ruscha, all of which characterize his artistic scope and identity. Assembled together in the form of a thick block, making the book and art "object" in itself, these images become a sort of novel without an obvious plot: a series of words with no narrative but, rather, with a life of their own. Some of the works consist of only one word—great, mud, trust—and others of short combinations or phrases, such as Indeed I do, She Sure Knew Her Devotionals, Your Polyester People, That Housing Tract is Only Texture, and, of course, They Called Her Styrene.
In these works Ruscha's words transcend their apparent randomness to become visual icons of universal emotions and places known and imagined, exposing a dimension of multi-layered irony and threads of subtle and inventive social commentary. This volume embodies an aesthetically appealing compilation presented, in the manner of its content, with bold flair and bright colors: a book that simply cannot be left alone.
Published by Phaidon, 2000, hardcover, 580 pages, 5 x 7.25 inches.