Unframed The LACMA Blog

Ed Ruscha first drew the Hollywood sign in 1967. Since then, the familiar icon has appeared in many of his paintings, drawings, and prints. Although he has joked that the sign was “a smog indicator: If I could read it, the weather was OK,” its recurrence in his art hints at Ruscha’s deep, personal engagement with film and film culture. I traced some of these connections while preparing the exhibition Ed Ruscha: Standard.

Ruscha vividly recalls seeing Hollywood films at the local theater while growing up in Oklahoma. When he moved to Los Angeles in 1956, he became more immersed in cinema. Among the films he recalls from that time are Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory (1957) and Joseph Strick’s The Savage Eye (1960); he also saw foreign films and silent classics at the Vagabond Theater on Wilshire Boulevard near MacArthur Park.

The early 1960s brought about an…

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