ED RUSCHA / NOW THEN

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*Bliss Bucket*

Edward Ruscha. Bliss Bucket. 2014 390

Acrylic on canvas, 6' × 10' 4" (182.9 × 315 cm). Pinault Collection. © 2023 Edward Ruscha. Photo: Paul Ruscha

Curator, Ana Torok: The imagery in Bliss Bucket is divided into two zones. In the lower part of the canvas, you see this torn and tattered discarded mattress. In the upper part, we have this musical notation which he renders so that it’s almost parallel to the mattress below it.

What Ruscha does so often is combine one thing that might be familiar with another that throws you off a little bit, destabilizes your expectations and you’re left to figure out what to do with it.

Even the term “Bliss Bucket” captures the tension that’s going on here in the painting. You have “bliss,” this hopeful, joyous word. It’s something intangible. And “bucket,” something you might see in a storage closet. It’s very much of this world.

This painting also makes me think about the role that sound plays in Ruscha’s work. Usually that’s through language, so you might see a word that you’re encouraged to sound out, but here, instead, Ruscha indicates music through its own language, this musical notation, and lets you fill in what that might sound like.

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