National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS

Image: Cotton Puffs, Q-tips®, Smoke and Mirrors: The Drawings of Ed Ruscha, February 13 - May 30, 2005

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery. Please follow the links below for related online resources or visit our current exhibitions schedule.

Related Resources

Exhibition Overview

Exhibition Highlights

Works by
Ed Ruscha
in the Gallery's Collection

Ruscha's prints illustrated in the Gemini G.E.L. Online Catalogue Raisonné

In-Depth Study of Ruscha's "Lisp"

View Related
Prints and Drawings Collection Tours

Print Study Rooms

Press Materials

Image: Ed Ruscha, American, born 1937
Dirty Baby
1977, pastel on paper
57.15 x 72.39 cm (22 1/2 x 28 1/2 in.)
Courtesy Anthony d'Offay, London Enigmatic paintings, drawings, and photographic books of gasoline stations, apartment buildings, palm trees, and vacant lots have made Ed Ruscha (born 1937) one of America's most important and influential contemporary artists. The first museum retrospective of Ruscha's drawings highlights his genius for the wry and deadpan juxtaposition of words and objects. Featuring some 90 drawings from the past four decades, the exhibition includes examples made with conventional drawing materials, such as graphite and pastel, and unorthodox materials, such as gunpowder, vegetables juices, and tobacco stains, to name just a few. The title of the exhibition, Cotton Puffs, Q-Tips®, Smoke and Mirrors, is a quote from Ruscha and refers to his drawing tools (cotton puffs and Q-tips) and secondly to his illusory effects (smoke and mirrors). Ruscha casts a critical eye on the shifting emblems of American popular culture in the form of classic Hollywood logos and stylized gas stations. He also embraces language as the very subject of his work. In a variety of scripts and styles—from Gothic to longhand, from ribbonlike lettering to words that seem poured rather than printed—Ruscha gives words physical voice. Beautifully rendered with meticulous precision, his art is one of subtle wit and calculated understatement.