Ed Ruscha's retrospective is the largest UK survey of his work in America over five decades from Pop Art to paintings of words and landscapes.
The early Pop Art in Room 1 has Box Smashed Flat depicting a Sun-Maid Raisins packet followed by his 'wide screen' paintings including the Twentieth Century Fox logo.
The faith of his childhood has been a strong influence especially when choosing words for large paintings such as FAITH and PURITY. Ruscha learnt to set type by hand at the Plantin Press and sometimes he uses typefaces invented by Giambattista Bodoni who worked at the Vatican printworks during the late 18th-century.
Ruscha's teasing phrases even appear in his own typeface called Boy Scout Unility Modern. For The End in the upstairs gallery he chooses Daily Telegraph gothic lettering.
Also upstairs are his mountain paintings spattered with words and two huge murals inspired by a painted concrete wall in Mexico City.
Could you do better? At the end of this month there is an opportunity to join a team of artists creating a panoramic work inspired by Ed Ruscha. Join in any time from Wednesday 28 to Saturday 30 October; 11am to 3.30pm at the next door Royal Festival Hall; free.
The exhibition is due to travel to Munich and Stockholm in 2010.
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