Inspired by the ironies and the vivid scenes of Los Angeles, Ed Ruscha chose an unusual subject as the main motif in his new series. Then again, when you recall of the previous themes and subjects he usually depicts, this one comes as an almost normal choice for the renowned creator. Mattresses... Dirty, ripped, abandoned, worn out and forgotten. All of them placed in a neutral backdrop and brought to focus by the famous pop artist in a new exhibition titled Metro Mattresses at Sprüth Magers in Berlin. With the Halloween atmosphere still in the air, the artist's quote perhaps best fits the description of the chosen subject "The mattresses become not just litter in the landscape but more like scary animals."
The work of Edward Ruscha has influenced the American pop culture to a great extent. His unique style and famous depictions of symbols of American culture have recorded the shifting emblems in the life of American people in the last half of the century. Through photography, painting, drawing and artists books, Ruscha has translated the imagery of popular culture into an original language of cinematic and typographical landscapes. With his wry and witty choice of words, he draws attention to the deterioration of language and the omnipresent cliches in pop culture. Lauded for using unusual materials and media to convey his creative force, Ruscha is known to have worked with fruit and vegetable juices, gunpowder, blood, grass stains and other unconventional materials to create his artwork. In 1956, Ruscha moved to Los Angeles, and from then on, his work has consistently influenced and flirted with several artistic movements, including Dada, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Conceptual art and, of course, Pop art.
Almost essential to our existence, privacy and, above all – rest, mattresses represent a sort of a repository of dreams. The countless nights spent on these mundane objects create a personal imprint in each and every one of the pieces, making every mattress unique and connected to the owner. Alas, once used up and worn out, they become a cumbersome slab which usually ends up discarded upon a side of the road. Ed Ruscha is known to be able to find a deeper meaning and connection between the human character and the seemingly mundane, everyday objects we wouldn’t necessarily perceive as being something more than what they were purposed for. The rhomboid and rectangular boxes of springs and padding have absorbed our dreams, moments of intimacy and provided the necessary comfort in the most weary of nights. And there they are now, rotting away, abandoned and discarded on the streets, as if they haven’t been an essential part of our home for years and years. The serial nature of the Metro Mattresses works carries some similarities to one of the artist’s earliest work, specifically the Twentysix Gasoline Stations from 1963 and Every Building on Sunset Strip from 1966.
As in his previous works, Edward Ruscha incorporates short, yet impactful “word” pictures alongside of the main subject, which in this case are the mattresses. Reminiscent of advertising slogans, letters spell out the “Metro Mattresses” or “Metro Matt” in a very flamboyant way across the paper, while the drawings hint away at the melancholic humor of the series. Show titled Metro Mattresses by Edward Ruscha is on view from November 3, 2015 – January 16, 2016 at Sprüth Magers in Berlin. On the occasion, the artist book under the same title Metro Mattresses will be published. Each of the twelve works in the series represents a mattress as the central subject, evoking the juxtaposed feelings of intimacy and abandonment.
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Ed Ruscha - Metro Mattress #8, 2015 - Copyright Ed Ruscha, Courtesy of the artist, Gagosian Gallery and Sprueth Magers