Art, Getty Research Institute, J. Paul Getty Museum, Photographs, Film, and Video

Ruscha Sees L.A.

The Getty has just acquired photographs by Ed Ruscha. Seventy-four prints, including depictions of gas stations from Los Angeles to Oklahoma City along Route 66, sidewalk views of buildings that were included in his self-published books Some Los Angeles Apartments and Real Estate Opportunities, and shots of the Los Angeles County Museum from the sky, are the first works by Ruscha to join the Museum’s collection.

The Getty Research Institute will now house Ruscha’s Streets of Los Angeles Archive, a trove of hundreds of contact sheets and tens of thousands of images that document the city’s streetscapes, from Melrose and Western Avenues to Pacific Coast Highway. Included also are the production material for Ruscha’s historic Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966). Part of the material comes as a promised gift from the artist himself.

Here’s a first sampling of Ruscha’s eye on L.A.’s streets, structures, and signs.

Gas Stations

Standard, Figueroa Street, Los Angeles / Ed Ruscha

Standard, Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, Ed Ruscha, 1962. Gelatin silver print, 4 7/8 x 5 3/4 in. Image courtesy Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles. © Ed Ruscha

Standard, Amarillo, Texas / Ed Ruscha

Standard, Amarillo, Texas, Ed Ruscha, 1962. Gelatin silver print, 4 11/16 x 4 3/4 in. Image courtesy Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles. © Ed Ruscha

Verso of Standard, Amarillo, Texas / Ed Ruscha

Standard, Amarillo, Texas, Ed Ruscha, 1962. Verso with artist's notes and signature. Gelatin silver print, 4 11/16 x 4 3/4 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, L.2011.63.9. Image courtesy Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles. © Ed Ruscha

Studies for Los Angeles County Museum on Fire

Untitled Study for Los Angeles County Museum on Fire / Ed Ruscha

Untitled Study for Los Angeles County Museum on Fire, Ed Ruscha, 1964-65. Monochrome dye diffusion transfer print, 2 7/8 x 3 3/4 in. Image courtesy Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles. © Ed Ruscha

Some Apartment Buildings

818 S. Doheny Drive from Some Apartment Buildings / Ed Ruscha

818 S. Doheny Dr. from Some Apartment Buildings, Ed Ruscha, 1965. Gelatin silver print, 4 9/16 x 4 5/8 in. Image courtesy Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles. © Ed Ruscha

Sunset Strip

Test prints for Sunset Strip portfolio / Ed Ruscha

Test prints for Sunset Strip portfolio, Ed Ruscha, photographs, 1966; portfolio, 1995. Part of the Streets of Los Angeles Archive, The Getty Research Institute. © Ed Ruscha

Detail from Test prints for Sunset Strip portfolio / Ed Ruscha

Detail from Test prints for Sunset Strip portfolio, Ed Ruscha, photographs, 1966; portfolio, 1995. Part of the Streets of Los Angeles Archive, The Getty Research Institute. © Ed Ruscha

Streets of Los Angeles

Shoot from Hollywood Blvd. / Ed Ruscha

Shoot from Hollywood Blvd., Ed Ruscha, 1973. Contact sheet. Part of the Streets of Los Angeles Archive, The Getty Research Institute. © Ed Ruscha

Detail of drawing from a notebook / Ed Ruscha

Detail of drawing from a notebook. Ed Ruscha. Part of the Streets of Los Angeles Archive, The Getty Research Institute. © Ed Ruscha

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One Comment

  1. George Vreeland Hill
    Posted June 10, 2012 at 3:39 am | Permalink

    Great photos.
    Thank you.

    George Vreeland Hill

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      A Chat with Photographer Tomoko Sawada

      A conversation about Japanese matchmaking traditions, self-portraiture, clothes, and identity.

      When did you start photographing yourself?
      I began making self-portraits when I was 19. It was an assignment for a photography class. I can’t even explain in Japanese why I liked them so much. It was instinctual. It’s as if I knew that this was going to be my style, that this is what I wanted to do. And I’m still doing it because I love the self-portrait, but I don’t know why. 

      What themes are you exploring in your work?
      I’m interested in the relationship between inside and outside. If you wear a sexy dress or if you wear kids clothes or casual clothes, people treat you differently. Even though you are you no matter what you wear. It’s that relationship that makes me think. 

      My new work is from when I was living in New York. When I was in New York, people didn’t think I was Japanese. Sometimes they thought I was Korean or Chines or Mongolian. Even Singaporean. It was funny, when I would go to the Japanese market, they would speak to me in English. When I went to the Korean market, they would speak to me in English again. I don’t seem to look Japanese outside of Japan. I was surprised because I think I look totally Japanese. It’s funny that people’s points of view are totally different.

      Could you talk a little about OMIAI, the series that represents a traditional Japanese matchmaking technique.
      OMIAI is a tradition that is somehow still working today. Usually, there is a matchmaker and photographs are exchanged before meeting. If both sides are interested, they can meet for lunch or dinner accompanied by their parents and steps for marriage proceed from there. In the old days, some people chose their marriage partner just through photographs, without even meeting each other. 

      When OMIAI was exhibited in Japan I saw people making various comments in from of the work. People would say things like, “she looks like a good cook; surely she would prepare delicious meals every day,” or “ this girl could be a perfect bride for my son,” or “I can tell she would not be a good housewife,” or “she’s such a graceful girl; she must be the daughter of a decent family.” Comments like that. 

      What was the process of making that work?
      I gained 10 pounds before I started taking the pictures, and in six months I lost forty pounds, because I wanted to look different in each photo. I wanted to change the way my legs looked. 

      Every weekend I went to the hair salon and put on a kimono. Then I went to the photo studio on the street in Japan. I would take a picture and then change my clothes to western dress. Then I would go to the studio again the next weekend. 

      Did you tell the photographer how you wanted it done?
      I told him I was an artist and wanted to make photographs with him. I told him to think that each weekend new girls would show up to make the OMIAI. I didn’t want him to think of me as the same girl who came every weekend. He understood the concept. 

      We had fun. While he was taking pictures, his wife would tell me how to lose weight. She gave me many tips.


      Tomoko Sawada’s work is on view at the Getty until February 21, 2016 in “The Younger Generation: Contemporary Japanese Photography”

      02/11/16

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