Ed Ruscha: Road Tested

 The Iconic West Coast Artist On Vintage Fords, Tape Decks and GPS

Ed Ruscha’s love affair with the road trip is the stuff of artistic lore. It was a cross-country journey in 1956 from his native Oklahoma to California along Route 66 that inspired the pop art pioneer’s most salient trademarks; from his vivid glorification of Standard gas stations to the billboard speak that overlays his idyllic landscapes. His ongoing automotive romance is traced through 40 years of work in the new book Road Tested, a complement to the exhibition of the same name currently on view at Texas’ Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. We asked the artist to talk us through a few roadside attractions.
What is it about a man’s relationship with his car that is so powerful?
Dreaming of, but not yet owning my first car was a heavenly state to be in. My dream car was a 1948 Ford convertible, but I had to settle for a 1950 sedan. Today I drive a 12-year-old car with a tape deck.
What work of art best captures the spirit of a road trip for you?
Vanishing Point  is my favorite road movie of all time. Released in 1971, it's about one man's wild ride across the west.
Physical maps or GPS?
My grandchildren will laugh: I am the only person they know that doesn't have a GPS screen on the dashboard.
Name three essentials that you take with you on a long journey.
Car keys, music and a jar of jalapeno peppers to take care of drowsiness.

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