Ed Ruscha, America Whistles was created for the portfolio America: The Third Century in 1975, commissioned by the Mobil Oil Corporation. On this occasion, a total of 13 artists, including Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg and James Rosenquist published prints celebrating the United States’ bicentennial the following year in 1976. Ruscha’s America Whistles was later chosen as the cover for the 1976 issue of ArtNews. This artwork is part of the public collections of MoMA (New York), the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Gallery of Art (both Washington D.C.), LACMA (Los Angeles) and the Fine Art Museums of San Francisco.
Ed Ruscha is an American painter and photographer who uses his art to explore the fluidity of language. His work is often association with Pop Art and beat generation. Yet the originality and diversity of Ruscha’s output means his work defies categorisation. He gained recognition for his innovative use of words and phrases as the subject of his paintings and for the many photographic books he has produced. Ed Ruscha’s training as a graphic designer is evident in his self-conscious use of typography. He plays on words through his use of colour, layout, and font, about which Ruscha said: “I like the idea of a word becoming a picture, almost leaving its body, and then coming back and becoming a word again.” In creating these works Ruscha paints and draws with unusual material such a gunpowder, Pepto Bismol, and even blood. Ed Ruscha’s practice draws attention to the deterioration of language and clichés of pop culture. Through his diverse output he continues to influence artists worldwide as well as questioning and encouraging the altering of the essence of human communication. Born in 1937 in Omaha, Nebraska, Ruscha grew up in Oklahoma City before moving to Los Angeles in 1956, where he still lives today.