ED RUSCHA / NOW THEN

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*Noise, Pencil, Broken Pencil, Cheap Western*

Edward Ruscha. Noise, Pencil, Broken Pencil, Cheap Western. 1963 364

Oil and wax on canvas, 71 1/4 × 67" (181 × 170.2 cm). Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Gift of Sydney and Frances Lewis. © 2023 Ed Ruscha. © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, photo Travis Fullerton

Artist, Ed Ruscha:  Noise, Pencil, Broken Pencil, Cheap Western I consider one of my best paintings. I like it so much because the subjects of the painting—the objects—appear to be trying to escape the painting.

There’s also something to the motion of an object doing something. In this case, it’s a pencil snapping [pencil snapping sound]. That’s a real sound, but it’s implied in the painting.

When I was painting pictures of objects, I would actually measure something like the pencil or a magazine and faithfully put it on the canvas in its actual size. Then it would have some legitimate power. Doing it otherwise, making it larger or smaller, would sort of, like, reduce its importance.

The word “Noise” and all words to me, they have really no size at all. You can see it a hundred feet high, you can see it in four point type.

Audio courtesy Acoustiguide and Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

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