Sunset Strip (Liquor Locker)

Ed Ruscha, Artist

This is one of the photographs in our collection. It was made in Los Angeles, California in 1976.
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Object Detail

About the Work
The images Ruscha produced in the 1960s and 70s such as 'Every Building on Sunset Strip', intrigued his contemporaries and earned him an unshakable reputation. How? His subject matter was neither purely documentary nor solely artistic, in fact it was stereotypical and banal, with motifs drawn from the car-dominated western landscape. That rebellious material, along with his serial presentation, made for a mythical road-movie or photo-novel effect with Beat Generation overtones. The combination attracted artists and critics both, especially while serial logic was prominent in Pop art and Minimalism, and then retained that interest later as serial work became prominent in Conceptual art.

This work is part of a series called "Sunset Strip".

"Sunset Strip: ‘It means a way of light.’ As Ruscha processes it in his pictures, this light is true and illusory at once, the hallucinated (or medicated) stuff of Hollywood dreams that offers a ‘feeling of concrete immortality’. At the same time, Ruscha presents this dream-space as thin and fragile (one of his keyed-up sunsets contains the words ‘eternal amnesia’ in small print at the bottom), and sometimes there is a hint of catastrophe, a sick glow beyond the usual smog, a touch of Nathaniel West or Joan Didion. Though he is a believer to the end, Ruscha suggests that Los Angeles might be a mirage and California a myth – a façade about to crumble into the desert, a set about to liquefy into the sea."
- Hal Foster. London Review of Books, 2 September 2004

Starting in 1963, with the publication of Twentysix Gasoline Stations, Ruscha began a series of photographic art books that documented ordinary aspects of life in Los Angeles. For Every Building on the Sunset Strip, Ruscha mounted a motorized Nikon to the back of a pick-up truck and photographed every building he passed. The resulting book, with the pictures printed in order and labelled with their street numbers, achieved an effective non-judgemental and almost anthropological record of previously unexplored details and aspects of the urban experience. Ruscha exercised control over each step of the bookmaking process and with the use of inexpensive offset printing, standard paper, and simple, paperback bindings, he created a new genre of art book designed for commercial distributors rather than art galleries. Ruscha's books, which became a staple of Conceptualism, were extremely influential to younger generations of artists.
Image 508 x 762mm
Frame 690 x 926mm
Silver-gelatin print mounted on museum board
Black and white photograph of a street scene on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood with the Liquor Locker store and a huge Las Vegas sign behind.
Credit Line
Collection of the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui. Purchased on behalf of the Gallery by the Sarjeant Gallery Trust, 2009. © Edward J. Ruscha IV
Collection Type
Permanent collection
Acquisition Date
21 Oct 2009



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