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the broad

Norm's, La Cienega, on Fire

Ed Ruscha
1964
oil and pencil on canvas
64 1/2 x 124 3/4 x 2 1/2 in. (163.83 x 316.87 x 6.35 cm)

[ACTOR “Welcome to Norm’s! Where life happens 24/7!”]

 

[AUDIO: surf sound]

 

NARRATOR

Every resident of Los Angeles knows that slogan, and just about everyone knows the place—it was recently declared a historic landmark. In the 1960s, Ed Ruscha often walked the few blocks from the iconic Ferus Gallery to Norm’s to grab a bite.

 

[SOUND FX- sounds of a diner / silverware on plates / low thrum of talking and eating.]

 

NARRATOR

Ruscha’s work is dedicated to Americana, and particularly the landscape of southern California —the open skies and the open road—the attitude and aesthetic born out of the promise of the west.

 

Here we see the restaurant burning while its trademark neon sign gloriously proclaims its name. In a perfect balance of nihilism and optimism, irony and sincerity, the points of the sign are defined and mimicked by the flames. The extreme perspective of the building along with the blaze, thrust diagonally across the canvas.

 

NARRATOR

Joanne Heyler

 

JOANNE HEYLER

There is a set of pencil marks or lines in the areas that at first glance appear to be unfinished or unpainted in this painting. And that's very much a deliberate strategy of his. This sort of slippage between a lushly-painted area of the canvas and then, this sort of moment that's just line drawing.