Ed Ruscha, Heavy Industry, 1962
Ed Ruscha is the artist I admire the most for his use of titles and text.
Hello, I am Sterling Ruby. I’m an artist in the Broad Collection.
Ed makes text graphic. He creates mantras out of seemingly unassociated words and turns them into visual abstractions. Often the background painting will have nothing to do with the foreground text.
Ace, Radio, Honk, and Boss. You can see these words—words Ruscha has used in his other paintings –inscribed under “Heavy Industry.” This is a used canvas and Ruscha wants you to know it. He turned the canvas 90 degrees and painted it again. The blacks are brushy and the words themselves imperfect.
Is “Heavy Industry” an American portrait of manufacturing? Is it really about industry and, if so, what industry? Is it the automotive industry? The prison industry? The movie industry? The art industry?
The phrase is both personal and universal. Straightforward and evocative.
Whatever you take from it, its confusing simplicity has a real air of statement to it.