The event in this case is Edward Ruscha’s exhibition at the Denver art museum where the main artwork of interest was “On The Road”.
This piece of work is inspired by the works of Jack Kerouac novel published in 1957 that was critical in defining the Beat Generation and it is a limited edition of Ruscha’s artistic version of “On The Road” done in 2009, which incorporates images from the Gagosian gallery as well as Steidl. It bears similarities to Jack’s work in the sense that they both apply language to bring out some level of social commentary, which is then documented through a series of American landscapes.
Ruscha has been known for the road trip culture as most of his previous paintings were of gas stations, landscapes and road signs. He was even identified at one time as the Andy Warhol of the West. However, in recent times he has been known to produce more word paintings on canvas with single words or phrases that are sometimes done over captivating landscape art.
Ruscha’s work is mainly composed of phrases lifted from the novel “On The Road”, which are painted in block over photorealistic backgrounds of captivating landscapes along the lower part of the large canvas. The venue of the exhibition is the Denver art museum and the work is displayed in unbound versions that are double paged and framed.
They are displayed in one end of the gallery in a particular elegant grid with the rest of the space featuring 15 of the previous works done by Ruscha that are related to the same work. The combination of his previous artistic niche in regard to the landscape art as it is experienced on road trips, and the works contained in Jack’s novel bring out a different form of art that is unique to Ruscha. This gives his work a particular high value due to the rare combination contained therein.
On the other hand the use of a previously captivating work compromises the originality that is often associated with the previous works done by Ruscha and even though these particular pieces may seem to be unique to him as they still contain elements of his previous pieces, they still remain unoriginal. It has been identified by various critics that a reinvention of previous works in a contemporary context still remains a phenomenal style and this is what makes these pieces exceptional.
The event was quite captivating in the sense that it exposes the audience to the age old road trip culture in a 1957 setting, but in relation to a more contemporary setting.
This makes the audience to attach his or her modern perceptions of life in the 50s to modernity while still appreciating the timelessness of natural landscapes as they have persisted over the years. It is a perfect depiction of western culture in a contemporary setting through unconventional artistic styles in regard to the words and phrases.
Of particular interest are the natural and free aspects of the particular western culture as it is depicted amongst natural landscapes and this brings out the beauty not only in the landscape, but also in the life of the free spirit road trip enthusiast, which is an experience that everyone would want to go through. It is, however, hard to comprehend the true meaning of these pieces if one is not familiar with Jack Kerouac’s work.