Ed Ruscha

You're a Dead Man (Country Cityscapes series) (2001)

About this artwork

In this print Ruscha has superimposed blank areas of white in place of words over an image of ‘wild west’ American scenery. The title reveals what the blanks are hiding; a violent threat expressed in the clichéd, vernacular slang of an American cowboy film. A stark contrast is created between the idyllic scenery and the aggression of Ruscha’s censored title. These bands could be read as plasters or gags but they also recall the geometric blocks used by American colour field painters from the 1950s such as Ad Reinhart or Barnett Newman. Ruscha created a number of similar works at this time using censoring blocks against a variety of illustrated and blank backdrops.

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  • title: You're a Dead Man (Country Cityscapes series)
  • accession number: AL00295
  • artist: Ed RuschaAmerican (born 1937)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • date created: 2001
  • measurements: 45.70 x 35.60 cm (framed: 51.00 x 40.70 x 3.70 cm)
  • credit line: ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Lent by Artist Rooms Foundation 2011
  • copyright: © Ed Ruscha.
This artwork is part of Artist Rooms

Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha

Ruscha was born in Omaha, Nebraska. He grew up in Oklahoma and studied in Los Angeles. Ruscha's work is diverse and experimental. Since childhood he has been interested in commercial art, in the form of advertising, comic books and magazines. This led to his first paintings featuring words, produced in the late 1950s. Ruscha is equally known for his books of deadpan photographs, such as 'Twenty-six Gasoline Stations' of 1963 and volumes of banal photographs of buildings. In his work Ruscha aims to challenge accepted concepts of language and meaning, often by combining unrelated words and images.