In a time when jokes about font choice get laughs from more people than just typographers, it makes sense that the work of Ed Ruscha would become such a point of interest. He’s an artist who makes clever, designy type work so naturally we find his work engaging and worthy of listing. In fact, his upcoming drawing show at Gagosian which opens May 3 is at the top of our list of things to see, despite the fact that their neighbours over at the Whitney had a Ruscha drawing show not two years ago. As if a direct response to the exhibition, Gagosian will host it’s own at their uptown location (which, if you don’t live in New York, is right across the street from the Whitney), and is the smaller and less factory-outletish space of the two galleries they have in the city. It also happens to be the location of their graphics center (or as Gagosian director Melissa Lazarov affectionately calls it – the jpeg department).
The show itself will be comprised of works completed from the mid sixties to early two thousand, and apparently boasts some rarer more desirable Ruscha drawings. All of this is moderately interesting, though what I find particularly worthy of thought in this exhibition is an idea articulated by Ruscha himself in discussing his work“They are almost not words, they are objects that become words”. What I find so fascinating about the idea of text as object is that it instantly reads like a relic of the pre-Internet days. Today it’s almost impossible to think of text without also connecting it to malleable type with a life that is determined largely by popularity rather than archival practice.