Artists understand how their materials behave (the thickness of paint, the stickiness of ink), but when Ed Ruscha got “oil on canvas fatigue” he had an urge to explore the mystery of the ordinary materials around him. He rubbed tobacco and rose petals on paper, painted with egg yolks and whiskey, spilled gasoline and milk, and, in 1970, printed chocolate to create the installation Chocolate Room, in which all four walls are papered in the “dark confection.”

Each time it’s shown, Chocolate Room has to be printed anew, and since printing chocolate isn’t in an artist’s (or even a chocolatier’s) repertoire, it requires extensive testing and experimentation. In this video we follow La Paloma Fine Arts, Inc., the family-owned fabrication business that has worked with Ruscha for decades, as they prepare for Chocolate Room’s largest version yet—in the exhibition ED RUSCHA / NOW THEN—from early sheet tests in Los Angeles to setting up a delicious-smelling print shop in MoMA’s galleries.

ED RUSCHA / NOW THEN is on view at MoMA through January 13, 2024.