Standard Station, Amarillo Texas
On View at the Getty Center: Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970
Ed Ruscha’s painting Standard Station, Amarillo, Texas, presents a generic, or “standard,” example of roadside architecture with an emphatically frontal treatment, and it reduces both the building and the landscape to basic geometric forms. Included in Ruscha’s second solo exhibition at the Ferus Gallery in 1964, the painting is based on a photograph in his first artist book, Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1962). The source image is monumentalized by the transposition to oil on canvas, in particular by the addition of the three beams of light, reminiscent of Klieg lights. A plunging diagonal line, one of Ruscha’s formal trademarks, divides the canvas, almost as if the artist were offering an elementary illustration of how to render perspective. Although Ruscha’s title locates his subject in Texas, its subject matter is just as closely tied to Los Angeles’s car culture and roadside architecture.