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the broad

Boss

Ed Ruscha
1961
oil on canvas
72 x 67 in. (182.88 x 170.18 cm)

Boss! Bawse Boss Bozz Boss Boss Boss Boss

 

It’s funny isn’t it? That sometimes when you say a word many times it sounds so strange and alien you forget what it means. And then you remember!

 

Have you said your name over and over and over again?

 

Weird, huh?

 

Ed Ruscha likes to play games like this when he paints words; And I don’t mean Scrabble!

 

The word in this work is painted in thick black letters. Those letters look like they could be from a sign, a shop, or on and advertisement. They’re painted on a thick dark brown background.

 

“Boss” was not chosen by accident. Ed wanted to use a common, one-syllable word that had a number of meanings.

 

We know that “Boss” means the leader of something, but when this painting was made, “Boss” also meant “cool” or “awesome.”

 

So, this painting, Boss, was [NARRATOR: Jazzy Beatnik voice] boss, daddy-o.

 

[SOUNDFX: Jazz notes and finger clicking]

 

By making the word an object it makes you think about that word. A lot. Ed once said that he liked the idea of a word becoming a picture, almost leaving its body and then coming back and being a word again.

 

That makes a lot of sense. I hope I spelled it out for you!