Last month the art world was ablaze with news that Ed Ruscha was the last of four artists to resign from the Board of Trustees of Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Across town, the venerable Los Angeles County Museum of Art will honor the artist at its October Art and Film gala.
Ruscha has been around to see the city’s art scene develop, becoming the single artist most closely associated with the city. He moved to LA in 1956 to attend the fine arts school Chouinard Art Institute (now California Institute of the Arts) and continues to live and work there, showing with Gagosian Gallery. Influenced by his early career as a graphic designer, Ruscha uses striking text and icons of LA’s cityscape, like gas stations, palm trees, and the Hollywood sign. He once published a book of photographs of every building on the Sunsert Strip, with a sequel capturing the length of Hollywood Boulevard. Ruscha has been a key figure in LA’s ongoing battle for recognition as a center for fine art, which makes him both a particularly fitting honoree for LACMA and a particularly stinging blow to MOCA.