Ed Ruscha @ The de Young

This is a much-delayed post about my first visit to The de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. It was also my first-ever Ed Ruscha retrospective, and really the first time I've seen so much of the artist's work at one time.


One of the most engaging exhibits I've seen was a surprisingly local affair. It wasn't at the Guggenheim or MoMA. Ed Ruscha and The Great American West was about a California-based artist and it took place at The de Young, which I've always thought of as a rather traditional California museum.

The show was a retrospective, featuring 99 works from different phases of Ruscha'a career. The massive Standard Oil Gas Station was there, the word paintings were there, even the artist books, photography, and the more recent prints and airbrush paintings were there.


I absolutely loved the show, and so did everyone I was with. Ruscha's a West coast pop artist, from The Cool School, but I've always thought he had a talent for minimalism. His works are full of humor and nostalgia, but so compositionally sparse that they always leave you wanting more.


While I was there, I also saw an amazing permanent Andy Goldsworthy piece, that's composed of just one long crack in the pavement leading into the museum. I know it sound somewhat esoteric, but it was a nice surprise, and very meditative, as his work usually is.

The last thing to mention is the observation deck, which I didn't even realize existed beforehand. You can see panoramic views of The Golden Gate Park, the city, and the Bay. It's a lovely feature of the museum and a great way to breakup a museum visit especially when all the pristine rooms start to feel antiseptic. Much of The de Young's exhibition spaces are below ground level and lack natural light, so a trip up to the observation deck offered a nice change of pace.