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Ed Ruscha Pools

Ed Ruscha, Pools, 1968
Color coupler prints in nine parts.
Estimated $80 to $120K.

Why is it that everything dated between 1968 - 1972 has a certain magical touch of je ne sais quoi. Pools by Ed Ruscha is no exception. Unlike the lush handling of paint and spontaneous assembly of materials by New York artists Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, West Coast artists made paintings, photographs, and objects in a broad range of styles that asserted their autonomy as individuals forging a new frontier. California was an oasis at the edge of the continent. It was a land of dreams where swimming pools, billboards, urban sprawl, and automobiles were the markers of postwar prosperity.” In Ed Ruscha’s bucolic 1968 photographs of swimming pools, “the only hint of human activity in these pictures—in the form of wet footsteps on a diving board—feels at once playful and ominous.”
With works such as the present lot, Ruscha proves himself as a monumental influence on the emergence of what the art critic William Jenkins called “a new topographic style, which was anthropological rather than critical, scientific rather than artistic. A topographic map renders a three dimensional landscape in two dimensions. It lists elevations and indicates their relief with flat contour lines. It also notes the position of natural and man-made features. Ruscha’s books of California subjects can be seen as a topographic map with many features, each one describing a different experience of the place. Together, they chart a distinctly American landscape, one that casts a dry, analytical eye on the nation in the post war years.” (S. Wolf, “California Topographic”, Ed Ruscha and Photography, 2004, New York, pp. 128, 154 and 169).