Ed Ruscha

HONK (1962)

About this artwork

The sound and effects of a car horn are suggested through the composition and brash colours of the graphic letters which appear to come to a sudden halt on the page. Ruscha frequently used visual alliteration in this way to conjure up the words he chose to paint. ‘Honk’ suggests the artist’s fascination with cars and highways and the impact of these post-war consumer industries on cities and towns in the United States. The word is also of the type found in comic books used to bring to life the ongoing narrative. The use of words became popular in Americanand British 'Pop Art' in the 1960s, although Ruscha made a speciality of depicting words on their own.

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  • title: HONK
  • accession number: AR00184
  • artist: Ed RuschaAmerican (born 1937)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • subject: Pop Art
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: 1962
  • measurements: 27.90 x 35.20 cm (framed: 38.00 x 45.50 x 3.50 cm)
  • credit line: ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Acquired jointly through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008
  • 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.