Curator, Ana Torok: In 1972, Ruscha produced the Insects Portfolio. Each print depicts a different insect. Sometimes it’s a swarm of ants, sometimes it’s a bunch of cockroaches.
Artist, Ed Ruscha: This work involved my indulgence into patterns, I guess. These works emerge from a foray that I’ve always had with little humble objects floating in space. In this case, it happened to be insects.
I basically feel like my work comes out of abstract art and that this work is really no exception. I keep thinking of a shotgun blast because most of these works appear to be that way. When you put them up on a wall and look at them, they kind of have that randomness that I appreciated, and I think that’s where that came from.
Ana Torok: Ruscha creates this image of a seemingly random swarm of insects through this meticulous draftsmanship. They’re each depicted at their actual size. And if you look closely, Ruscha has given each individual ant a tiny shadow.
It’s interesting that Ruscha would have chosen insects as a subject in this particular moment. Just a couple of years earlier, Ruscha had produced the Chocolate Room, which you may have seen in a previous gallery. As Ruscha recalls, just as he was finishing up that installation and exiting the room, he saw a trail of ants on their way in, heading straight toward the chocolate.