Ed Ruscha

At the end of the 1960s, Ed Ruscha’s “romance with liquids” produced some of his most iconic and ingenious work. “That was about 1966,” said the artist, “and I had just seen the end of the road with a certain kind of painting I was doing. I don’t know why it happened, but close-up views of liquids somehow began to interest me. And then I started making little setups on tables, and painting them, using syrup, and studying what happens” (E. Ruscha, quoted in “A Conversation Between Walter Hopps and Ed Ruscha,” in Y.-A. Bois, Edward Ruscha: Romance with Liquids, exh. cat., Gagosian Gallery, New York, 1993, p. 102). Ruscha does not always make identifable the liquids which he masterfully renders into print, yet they recall a diverse range of liquids in thickness and finish as they whimsically float across the page. The physical spill of the liquid, in making the shape of letters completely original due to the random fall of gravity, gives these works a freshness and vitality which transcends the medium.

A copy of this rare work has only ever appeared at auction twice. It is an extraordinary document of the inventiveness of Ruscha's printmaking in late 1960s Los Angeles at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop having, as it does, the surface appearance of silvered fishskin to underpin the choice of word.

Named after the avenue on which it was located, and originally funded by the Ford Foundation, Tamarind schooled apprentice printers by inviting them on two-month fellowships. Rather than pay to make prints, the workshop's funding allowed the artists to keep the editions they made there, and to produce as many editions as possible, all leading to their certification as master printers. With no commercial concerns to worry about, this led to wild experimentation. It was to be Ruscha's most prolific engagement with the print medium to date, producing 22 colour lithographs in his time there.

"If he had not already done so with his paintings, Ruscha revealed himself with the prints of the late 1960s and early 1970s to be an extraordinary colourist, one who was open to the interpretive possibilities available with ink and the printed surface. Anchovy was glossed with a film of pearlescent ink, imparting to the blue-grey surface the silvery look of a fish. The ink for Made In California was matched perfectly to a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice, and Mint was executed in exact peppermint pink. The richness of colour and attention to surface in both the Tamarind and Cirrus works of the period confirmed that Ruscha’s prints were as painterly as were his works in any medium."

(Quoted text by Siri Engberg)

From the small edition of 20, no. 3 is held in the collection of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; no.9 is held by Brooklyn Museum, New York; no.16 is held by University Museum of Contemporary Art, University Massachusetts Amherst; no. 20 is held by the RISD Museum, Rhode Island

Aside from the edition, Tamarind Impressions (of which there were 9) are held in the collection of MoMA, New York; Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena; Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth; National Gallery of Art, Washington; An artist's proof (of which there were 3) is held by the de Young | Legion of Honour in San Francisco


Ed Ruscha (b.1937)
Lithograph on calendered Rives BFK paper
19 x 28 in : 48.3 x 71.1 cm
Frame Size
22 ¼ x 31 ¼ in : 56.5 x 79.5 cm
From the edition of 20
Signed, dated and numbered by the artist
Tamarind Lithography Workshop
Printed in 2 colours in 2 runs from one aluminium plate and one stone. 1. silver - plate; 2. blue - stone. This impression in pristine condition and having the workshop watermark verso lower left; printer's watermark verso lower left; workshop number in pencil verso lower left "2550"
Serge Lozingot for Tamarind Lithography Workshop, Los Angeles
Engberg 29
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