Ed Ruscha: Pure Joy

Standard Station, Amarillo, Texas, 1963, Ed Ruscha. Oil on canvas. 64 1/2 x 121 3/4 in

From Calvin Tomkins’ recent New Yorker profile of Ed Ruscha:

That same year, Ruscha finished “Standard Station, Amarillo, Texas,” the first of his many paintings, drawings, and prints of gas stations, whose dramatic, raked perspective came from an effect he had observed in old black and white films.

“You know those movies where a train starts out in the lower-right corner and gradually fills the screen?” he asked. “The gas station is on a diagonal like that, from lower right to upper left. It also had something to do with teachings I picked up in art school, about dividing the picture plane. I didn’t really know what I was up to then, or what direction to take. I was just following these little urges. It was pure joy, to be able to do something like that.”