Best Redefinition of Western Art (2013)

Ed Ruscha: On the Road

With Denver being a key stop in Jack Kerouac's On the Road, Colorado found its place on the hipster map. Los Angeles-based conceptualist Ed Ruscha, himself a hipster's hipster, did a series of works on paper that incorporated quotes from the novel and placed them across photos of Western landscapes or related abstracts. They're classic post-pop Ruschas, with the text floating at the surface and the image receding behind it. Ruscha's work has been exhibited in Denver many times before, but here it was recast as Western art, simply by having been installed in the Denver Art Museum's Western art galleries. Indeed, curator Thomas Smith pulled off a sleight of hand, furthering an idea that's been catching on in the last few years: that by working in the West, Ruscha is just as Western as Frederic Remington was.


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