Cotton Puffs, Q-Tips®, Smoke and Mirrors: The Drawings of Ed Ruscha
February 13 – May 30, 2005
West Building, Ground Floor, Outer Tier Galleries G26 through G29

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.

Overview: 89 drawings and 6 studio notebooks constituted this first museum retrospective of drawings by contemporary Los Angeles artist Ed Ruscha. Dated from 1959 to 2002, the drawings trace Ruscha’s career from early pop images of American commercial logos and gas stations to later images depicting words and phrases as subject matter. The title of the exhibition, a quote from the artist, refers to some of his drawing tools (cotton puffs and Q-tips®) and his illusionary effects (smoke and mirrors). The presentation was a condensed version of an exhibition seen earlier in New York and Los Angeles.

A special opening-day lecture by the artist was presented, "Ed Ruscha on Ed Ruscha," and 2 of the artist's short 16mm films were shown in conjunction with the exhibition.

Organization: The exhibition was organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Margit Rowell was the guest curator. Judith Brodie, curator of modern prints and drawings, National Gallery of Art, coordinated the exhibition in Washington.

Sponsor: The project was funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services by an Act of Congress. The exhibition in Washington was made possible by The Broad Art Foundation.

Attendance: 67,154

Catalog: Cotton Puffs, Q-Tips®, Smoke and Mirrors: The Drawings of Ed Ruscha, by Margit Rowell, with an essay by Cornelia Butler. New York: Whitney Museum of Art, 2004.

Other Venues: Whitney Museum of Art, New York, June 24–September 26, 2004
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, October 17, 2004–January 17, 2005

Image: Ed Ruscha, Mighty Topic, 1990, acrylic on wove paper, Gift of Ed Ruscha, 2007.34.1

Related Artists

Audio and Video

Conversations with Artists: Ed Ruscha
Audio, Released: August 9, 2011, (39:10 minutes)