Films like Easy Rider (1969) and Two-Lane Blacktop (1971) helped define the myth of the American road as a site for self-transformation against the conforming institutions of school, work, and marriage. Similarly fascinated with American driving culture, Ed Ruscha photographed the roadways in and around Los Angeles. Shot from his car, the 26 images of gasoline stations printed in this pocket-sized book impart the experience of moving through the West’s sprawling highways. Different from the rebel road films, Ruscha’s deadpan approach to image-making emphasizes the monotony of the road. Still, traces of narrative remain: the gas stations pictured here were all located on Route 66 between Ruscha’s home in Los Angeles and his parents’ house in Oklahoma.
-Jaime Pagana, Curatorial Assistant, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum (Sept. 2016)
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