12/04/2009

Ed Ruscha (b. 1937)
Sauce
Price Realized
(Set Currency)
  • £412,500
  • ($809,325)
  • Price includes buyer's premium
Estimate
    £350,000 - £500,000
  • ($689,150 - $984,500)


Sale Information

Sale 7565
Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale
6 February 2008
London, King Street




Lot Description

Ed Ruscha (b. 1937)
Sauce
signed, titled and dated '1967 "SAUCE" Edward Ruscha' (on the reverse); signed and titled 'Edward Ruscha "SAUCE"' (on the stretcher)
oil on linen
20 x 24in. (50.8 x 61cm.)
Painted in 1967

Special Notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium

Pre-Lot Text

Property from a Private American Collection

Provenance

Alexander Iolas Gallery, New York.
Leo Castelli Gallery, New York.
Stephen Mazoh & Co., New York.
Kantor Gallery, Beverly Hills.

Literature

R. Dean (ed.), Edward Ruscha: Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings, Volume One: 1958-1970, New York 2003, no. P1967.05 (illustrated in colour, p. 231).

Exhibited

Coral Gables, Florida, Corcoran & Corcoran, Ed Ruscha, January 1972.
New York, ACA Galleries, Looking West, September-October 1972 (illustrated, unpaged).
Los Angeles, Kantor Gallery, Ed Ruscha: a Retrospective Exhibition, May-June 1996.

Lot Notes

Ed Ruscha's Sauce is an early example of his fascination with the graphic appearance of written words, rather than their implied meanings. The painting draws its inspiration from Ruscha's somewhat removed way of looking at the world, as if he were looking through the window of a passing car, a perspective further influenced by the sign-scattered landscapes of Midwest America. Desperate to escape the provincialism of his hometown in Oklahoma, Ruscha hit the road Jack Kerouac style in 1956, driving his souped-up 1950 Ford down the legendary Route 66 westwards to settle in Los Angeles. The romance of this journey would have a profound influence on Ruscha's art. The unreality of the endlessly flat and featureless landscape, the vast, empty skies, punctuated only by passing advertising billboards and gas station signs, would, over time, come to form the basis of his deceptively simple word paintings. Attracted to the look of printed words and the confluence between art and communication, Ruscha pursued his interest in the visual pleasures of typography during a period when artists internationally were beginning to re-evaluate the significance of commercial imagery from popular culture. Sauce is a painting from a signature series of the late 1960s, in which Ruscha began to disassociate his work from direct commercial references or narrative possibilities, and began to isolate single words in a generic typeface to create a sense of timeless neutrality. Floating over a carefully modulated, undefined space like the opening sequence of a film, the word 'sauce' occupies the painting like an object, becoming a title, an image and a plastic element all in one. The scale of the chosen word replicates the disjunctive appearance of a distant sign on a lonely desert highway, with lettering so widely spaced that it forces the viewer to traverse the expanse of the picture plane from one side of the canvas to the other as if scanning a horizon. For Ruscha, the literal meaning of the word takes a backseat to its graphic appearance and suggested sound. Words have a synaesthetic quality, they are not only concepts, they are shapes, they are 'pattern-like,' Ruscha explains, 'and in their horizontality they answer my investigation into landscape. They're almost not words - they are objects that become words' (Ruscha, quoted in R. D. Marshall, Ed Ruscha, London 2003, p. 106).

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