Ed Ruscha : artist’s books in ‘Glass Case’ space
Twelve of Ruscha’s artist books published between 1963-1972 and three published between 2001-2005 are on offer at grahame galleries + editions.
‘The most renowned series of artist’s books in the history of the genre. Ed Ruscha’s works still retain their capacity to surprise, delight and puzzle. In equal measure in the several decades since they were published, they have been much exhibited, written about and analysed, yet they somehow are still objects of mystery and fascination, beguiling in their utter simplicity and immutable rightness.’ Parr and Badger II pp. 140-141.
Clive Phillpot quotes Ruscha in his essay on the artist’s books in Edward Ruscha: Editions 1959-1990, “I consider my books to be strictly visual materials…I even perceived them as bits of sculpture, in a way. They were three-dimensional, they were thick. I even painted on the sides of my canvases for a few years to accentuate the idea that this was a three-dimensional thing. I would make a painting that said ‘Radio,’ for example, then paint the title on the side. In an odd way, it was lake a book, and so my paintings were book covers. in a way.” ‘Conversely, one might say that Ruscha’s books were like portable, miniature word paintings, especially since he would sometimes conceive their covers first.’ Phillpot in Engberg. vol. 2. p. 67.
Engberg, S 1999, Edward Ruscha: Editions 1959-1990, Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis. Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 2.
Parr, Martin and Badger, Gerry 2006, The Photobook: A History volume II, Phaidon Press, London.
‘With this his first book, Ruscha established a new paradigm for artist’s books that stood in opposition not only to hand-printed books but also to the livres de luxe common earlier in the century … here was a book – primarily visual, comprising nondescript photos of gas stations, assembled by a visual artist, printed carefully but not slickly and susceptible to reprinting – that could slip into any bookstore, or pocket, and be marketed like any other paperback.’ Phillpot in Engberg p. vol. 2, 60.
1st edition (1963) 400
2nd edition (1967) 500
3rd edition (1969) 3,000
Copy is from 3rd edition
48 pages (28 pages containing 26 photographic illustrations [10 accompanied by captions on the same page}; 16 pages containing captions only; 1 title page; 1 dedication page; 1 colophon page; 1 blank page). 3rd edition: copyright page listing 1st and 2nd printings) Engberg B1
Condition: Some discolouration on spine. Mark top left front cover.
There has been much written about the title of Ruscha’s 2nd book. ‘Ruscha’s reference to apparently incongruous elements in his large paintings (a magazine, a newspaper, or a pencil, often painted actual size) indicate that the non sequitur of the glass of milk at the end of Various Small Fires was not so anomalous…The unusual number of blank pages in Various Small Fire is repeated and even exceeded in some of the later books.’ Phillpot in Engberg. vol. 2. p. 64.
1st edition (1964) 400
2nd edition (1970) 3,000
This copy is from 2nd edition
48 pages (16 pages with photographic illustrations (15 with yellow varnish, 30 blank pages, 1 title page, 1 copyright page). Engberg B2
Condition: Kink bottom right corner front cover.
This copy of Various Small Fires is from 2nd edition. It is from the collection of Malcolm Enright.
It was given to Enright by Brett Whiteley in 1974. It sat in Whitley’s studio open at the ‘7th fire’ and now naturally falls open here. The two pages are paint stained and there are other marks made by Whiteley.
‘Around 1974 I spent many weekends in Sydney, I stayed in Challis Avenue, right around the corner from Macleay Street (Potts Point), where the Yellow House was just going-off during that period. I had Sunday lunch at some place off Oxford Street (down towards Riley Street) with a large group of people after a visit to Brett’s studio close by. He spent most of the time in the restaurant toilet I remember. He had given me Various Small Fires earlier in the day after we shared stories of NYC and especially the Chelsea Hotel, where we had both stayed. You can still see his huge skyline 3D work in their foyer, today.
He was a gracious guy, just so energetic but I guess that was the stuff talking.’ Mal Enright
The book was stolen from Enright’s extensive library by a ‘friend’. Mal adds,‘The friend was nicknamed ‘NZ Graham’. He was a clear light tripper. He ripped off a good part of my first library, early on – I did manage to buy back 4 or 5 important books from Mrs Lloyd. ‘Little Fires’ was fortunately one of them.’
It was found in Lloyds Bookshop in Brisbane and reclaimed by Enright.
Condition: ‘Two rubber stamps first page ‘Lloyds Brisbane’ and ‘Malcolm J. Enright Marketing and Graphic Designer’. Cover is marked along spine otherwise in good condition.’ Malcolm Enright
This is a special copy. $2500.00
‘His third book, Some Los Angeles Apartments, published in 1965 with a green typographic cover, returned to the more varied page layouts of Twentysix Gasoline Stations, but like the two previous books, the most common page spread contained a single photograph on the upper right hand portion of the page.’ Phillpot in Engberg. vol. 2. p. 64,
1st edition (1965) 700
2nd edition (1970) 3,000
Copy is from 2nd edition
48 (34 pages containing 34 captioned photographic illustrations, 12 blank pages, 1 title page, 1 title page). Engberg B3
Condition: Mark top left front cover.
Every Building on The Sunset Strip
‘Every Building on The Sunset Strip’ is the great exception within Ed Ruscha’s photobook biographical and an important one.’ Parr and Badger II p. 143
‘In 1966 a rather different book was born, though one that sat comfortably enough on the shelf with the previous books. It was The Sunset Strip…(It) satisfied one of Ruscha’s early ambitions.’ Phillpot in Engberg. vol. 2. p. 67
1st edition (1966) 1,000
2nd edition (1971) 5,000
Copy is from 2nd edition
1 continuous accordion-fold page composed of glued paper segments. (2nd edition: slipcase covered in silver Mylar). Engberg B4
Condition: Damage along bottom third of book. Mylar slipcase shows the usual wear for this book.
‘Ruscha commissioned aerial photographer Art Alanis to take the photographs and told him to shoot all the empty lots he came across. As to why he wanted images of such phenomena, the artist has said that at the time he liked to think of his bookwork as coming out of specific missions; each of his books reflects a narrow point of view…Like Ruscha’s first three books, this one has forty-eight pages, but its dimensions are very different…”I got the photographs back from the photographer and he’d made beautiful 8-by-10 glossy blowups…I was floored by them. I couldn’t bring myself to reduce these photographs to fit the original format.” Phillpot in Engberg. vol. 2. pp. 67-68
1st edition (1967) 2,413
2nd edition (1974) 2,000
Copy is from 1st edition
48 pages (32 pages containing 34 captioned photographic illustration. 14 blank pages, 1 title page, 1 copyright page). Engberg B5
Condition: Damage to bottom front and back covers and along bottom each page.
‘In 1967 he published Royal Road Test, the first of his books in which there was collaboration over content…(It) is a picture-book story of a Royal manual typewriter that was thrown out of the window of a 1963 Buick travelling at ninety miles per hour. Ruscha is cast in the role of the driver, Blackwell the photographer, and Williams the “thrower.” The core of the books is the photographic examination of the wreckage of the typewriter strewn over many square yards, spoofing the methods of an investigator analysing the demise of an automobile prototype…’ Phillpot in Engberg. vol. 2. p. 68
1st edition (1967) 1,000
2nd edition (1969) 1,000
3rd edition (1971) 2,000
4th edition (1980) 1,500
60 pages (30 pages with 36 captioned photographic illustrations, 16 pages with text only, 12 blank pages, 1 title page, 1 copyright page)
2nd and 4th editions: 64 pages (4 blank pages added) Engberg B6
One from 2nd edition
Condition: Some water damage
One from 4th edition
With Nine Swimming Pools and a Broken Glass Ruscha returns to the format of his first books but has 64 pages instead of the usual 48 and again with intriguing blank pages. As with Various Small Fires part of the title Nine Swimming Pools appears on the cover and is expanded on the title page to Nine Swimming Pools and a Broken Glass.
1st edition (1968) 2,400
2nd edition (1976) 2,000
64 pages (10 pages with photographic illustrations, 52 blank pages, 1 title page, 1 copyright page). 2nd edition: contains copyright information and information on second edition. Engberg B8
One copy from 1st edition.
This copy is from the collection of Malcolm Enright.
Condition: Kink top left to spine and covers. Spine shows usual discolouration. Glassine dust jacket also shows usual wear.
One from 2nd edition
This is another collaboration with Mason Williams and another picture book. Crackers is the only word in the book and comes from Wiliams’ story – printed inside back flap – “How to derive the maximum enjoyment from crackers”.
First and only edition (1969) 5,000
240 pages (115 pages with photographic illustrations, 1 title page, 1 copyright page, 1 caption page, 1 credits page, 121 blank pages). Engberg B10
one damaged $100.00
one good condition $750.00
‘Real Estate Opportunities is the last of Ruscha’s books to conform to the house style of the early volumes. Although the three solo books that followed in 1971 and 1972 – A Few Palm Trees, Records, and Coloured People – have the same dimensions as most of the early books, they have colored covers…’ Phillpot in Engberg. vol. 2. p. 75.
1st and only edition (1970) 4,000
48 pages (25 pages with photographic illustrations, 1 title page, 1 copyright page, 21 blank pages). Engberg B12
A Few Palm Trees
This was Ruscha’s thirteenth book. The title does not appear on the solid black cover. It contains 14 photos of palm trees.
‘Ruscha said, “I guess at that time I was more involved in botanical phenomena…I thought, well, this is maybe something I should investigate”’ Phillpot in Engberg. vol. 2. p. 74.
1st and only edition (1971) 3,900
64 pages (14 pages with photographic illustrations, 14 pages containing captions only, 1 title page, 1 copyright page, 34 blank pages). Engberg B13
Condition: Water damage covers.
‘Each spread has images of a record album cover on the left and the record it house on the right. The effect is of paired squares and circles. It seems almost to be a bleeding of the two little book by Bruno Munari that appeared in English in 1962 and 1966 (Discovery of the Square and Discovery of the Circle), but without the diverse visual content of those books-save, to an extent, in the imagery of the album covers.’ Phillpot in Engberg. vol. 2. p. 74
1st and only edition (1971) 2,000
72 pages (60 pages with photographic illustrations. 1 title page, 1 copyright page, 10 blank pages). Engberg B15
Condition: Bottom third shows signs of water damage and offsetting of red of back cover onto back page.
‘Coloured People has a yellow cover bearing the title and contains fifteen stripped photos of plants, mostly cacti, printed in color, succeeded by seventeen blank spreads…Apart from the opening credits, there are no words in Coloured People (which was true of Ruscha’s only other book in color, Nine Swimming Pools.’ Phillpot in Engberg, vol. 2. p. 74
1st and only edition (1972) edition 4,065
64 pages (16 pages containing 15 photographic illustrations, 1 title page, 1 copyrignt page, 46 blank pages). Engberg B16
Condition: Some water damage.
This is the first artist book from Ruscha in twenty-five years. Produced in conjunction with his exhibition at the James Kelly Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, ‘S’ contains 26 colour reproduction of the altered covers of books. Ruscha has adorned covers with the letter ‘S’ in varied sizes and fonts, and has managed to take something as simple as a letter, and turn it into something bigger and more important.
1st and only edition 2001
Me and The
A sculptural book with double fore-edge printing and gold gilt edges. Text concealed within the leaves appears by fanning the leaves first one way and then the other.
1st and only edition 2002
Limited edition of 230 numbered, signed Ed Ruscha and dated 2002 in pencil
Condition as released
Then and Now
1st edition 2005
In 1973 Ruscha mounted a camera with continuously-fed film on the back of a truck and made a panoramic image of the entire 12 mile length of Hollywood Boulevard, the same procedure he had used to make Every Building on the Sunset Strip in 1966. The Hollywood Boulevard photograph was never turned into an artist’s book, but Ruscha preserved the negatives and has now made new panoramic photos, in colour, of Hollywood Boulevard as it was in June, 2004. The vintage and contemporary panoramas have now been aligned side-by-side in this new publication, a project Ruscha calls, “a very democratic, unemotional look at the world.”
Related material from the collection of Malcolm Enright
Engberg, S 1999, Edward Ruscha: Editions 1959-1990, Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis.
Published in conjunction with a 1999 travelling Walker Art Center retrospective, these two beautifully designed volumes comprise a full catalogue raisonné of Edward Ruscha’s graphic works, editioned photographs and artist’s books dating between 1959 – 1999. It contains over four hundred entries, with full publication details for each. In addition, every page of every self-published artist’s book is reproduced in miniature in the first volume. A pristine copy in publisher’s slipcase, still in shrinkwrap.
This copy does not carry collector’s stamp.
Ruscha, E 1982, I Dont Want No Retro Spective: The Works of Edward Ruscha, Hudson Hills Press, New York.
Paperback. 182 pp. Illustrations with many fold-outs.
With collector’s stamp.
I told you nobody ought never to fight him, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2004. With collector’s stamp.
Ed Ruscha: Industrial Strenght, The Fabric Workshop and Museum, 2008.
With collector’s stamp.