Artists Retrospective

Retrospective: Ed Ruscha Takes California into the ’90s

And other excerpts from our coverage 100, 75, 50, and 25 years ago

December 19, 1914

December 19, 1914

100 Years Ago

“Brooklyn’s Print Laboratory”

A unique print laboratory has been established at the Brooklyn Museum on the Eastern Parkway, which is probably the only one of its kind in the country. It is for printing in the art sense, viz.: “the making of an impression on paper, or some kindred substance, of an engraved plate, which has previously been charged with ink.” Etchings, acquatints and dry-points come under this head. Some time since, it was found that more than one artist-etcher in Brooklyn was working at a disadvantage on account of no available press on which to “try out” his work. Some were using the family clothes-wringer. From time to time the head of the Print Division was asked to persuade the Museum printer to make a print from a plate during his luncheon hour with needless to say unsatisfactory results for a press used for the printing of an etching is entirely different from that used in printing museum labels. It therefore occurred to the Museum authorities to apply the laboratory idea to prints. If biological laboratories why not print laboratories? And so a small room just off the Print Gallery has been [fitted] up with a side press where any seriously interested person may print his own etching or try other experiments.

December 16, 1939

December 16, 1939

75 Years Ago

“Plastics Sans Symbols: Yves Tanguy,”
by James W. Lane

Yves Tanguy has almost one of those Hollywood names, beautifully joined, vaguely seductive and vaguely suggestive of the mysterious and graceful work that he does. The work is mysterious not because it is pure Surrealism (as it is), but because it is devoted to pure plastics that generally eschew the pun of the double entendre so dear to the Dalís. Tanguy, who when asked to define painting called it a “little white twist of smoke,” can therefore roam the realm of disembodied essence with a spontaneity which is denied to the literary Surrealist.

December 1964

December 1964

50 Years Ago

“The Split Worlds of Max Beckmann,”
by Mark Roskill

Max Beckmann certainly had remarkable talents. He had a command of sardonic humor, and when he used this humor at his own expense, as in many of his self-portraits, the images which he produced could be touching in their undertones of pathos. He was also extraordinarily gifted in the vein of descriptive realism. He could crystalize in an immensely effective way the outer casing of a face—as in his early female portraits or his lucid drawing of Quappi from 1925. And he could extend this same gift to encompass the sharp angle of an arm, the twist of a leg or the thrust of a protruding foot.

December 1989

December 1989

25 Years Ago

“The Last Word,”
by Ralph Rugoff

Layered with visual and verbal puns, [Ed] Ruscha’s art has always reflected a hip, homegrown Conceptualist bent. And in his various endeavors he has experimented with many tools with which the art of the ’80s has been forged—appropriation and the use of language as subject, to mention two. As a result it’s almost impossible to discuss the work of artists as diverse as John Baldessari, David Salle, Richard Prince, and Anselm Kiefer without referring to Ruscha’s pioneering influence. Yet despite his past achievements, his current popularity seems to have been largely spurred by the appearance of the silhouette series. New York magazine’s art critic, Kay Larson, called Ruscha’s show this year of works from the series at New York’s Leo Castelli Gallery “the season’s most deeply felt and successful exhibition.”

A version of this story originally appeared in the December 2014 issue of ARTnews on page 128.

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