Twenty-Six Gasoline Stations, 1963.
Edward Ruscha is an American artist who works with a variety of mediums including painting, printmaking, drawing, photography and film. His interest in books stems from a fascination with typography, language and sculpture. He has become famous for his ‘word-paintings,’ which are structured to shift the viewers focus away from the meaning of the word to its shape and architecture. His work, Twenty-Six Gasoline Stations, is characteristic of Ruscha’s focus on the structural aesthetics of text itself. The book is neither a historical reading of gas stations, nor a self-reflexive exercise in photography. Rather, as a book which has almost no text, its content is determined by the title on its cover.
The book evolved from an emphasis on language and semiotics, with the images taking a secondary role. The typography of both words, “gasoline” and “twenty six,” inspired Ruscha to make a book that is cohesive as an object and display a certain plasticity and materiality. In his words: “ I consider them as visual material… I consider them as sculptures. They have volume, they have thickness.”