Ed Ruscha once said of his beloved Los Angeles, “You can turn on the radio and the radio becomes the soundtrack for what you see out the window. And somehow I get more from doing this in Los Angeles than I do in another city.” Now a work by the 81-year-old L.A. artist that takes the radio as its subject stands a chance of shattering his auction record, with Christie’s offering his 1964 painting Hurting the Word Radio #2 at its November contemporary evening sale in New York with an estimate of $30 million to $40 million.
The painting depicts the word “RADIO” in bright yellow lettering that appears to be C-clamped in some parts, atop a sky-blue background, and if it makes the auction house’s low estimate, with the addition of buyer’s premium, it will edge out Ruscha’s current record of $30.4 million, which was set at the same November sale, back in 2014, for Smash (1963).
The piece hits the auction block for the first time from the collection of Joan and Jack Quinn, who bought it directly from the artist in the early 1970s. The couple’s collection is made up entirely of art from Southern California. Jack passed away in 2017 at the age of 84, and Joan still lives in Beverly Hills. A major L.A. socialite, she has been an associate of artists such as Robert Mapplethorpe, Jean-Michel Basquiat, David Hockney, and Fred Gehry, as well as Ruscha himself, and in 1978, Andy Warhol named her the West Coast editor of Interview magazine.
The work went on view at Christie’s in London today, where it will remain through October 4. So, if you’re out at Frieze London, pop by Christie’s for a warm L.A. breeze.