Good Bones

What is it that we want from Ruscha? What does New York want from the idea of LA?

Ed Ruscha, Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Fire, 1965-68. Oil on canvas, 4′ 5 1⁄2″ × 11′ 1 1⁄2″ (135.9 × 339.1 cm). Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC. Gift of Joseph H. Hirshhorn. © 2023 Ed Ruscha. Photo Paul Ruscha

  • ED RUSCHA / NOW THEN, curated by Christophe Cherix with Ana Torok and Kiko Aebi, ran at the Museum of Modern Art from September 10, 2023 to January, 13, 2024. The exhibition opens at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in April.

I just follow the hood of my car
In Los Ageless, the waves they never break
They build and build until you don’t have no escape
But how can I leave?

I’m doing two only slightly adjacent things between three visits to the Ed Ruscha show at MoMA. I’m insomnia-watching YouTube recaps of a hideously fascinating early 2000s reality TV show called The Swan, which offered a medically insane number of bodily alterations to contestants to make them into pageant beauties. And I’m listening to St. Vincent’s “Los Ageless” on repeat. LA—and the idea of LA—formed a large part of the marketing and conceit of MoMA’s exhibit, which closed in January, and these are my unfortunate coextractions from that theme. Ruscha is the dingbat apartment and the continuous span of Hollywood Boulevard and all the Amer…

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