Location: Floor Six, The Steven and Alexandra Cohen Center for Special Exhibitions
The Museum of Modern Art presents ED RUSCHA / NOW THEN, the most comprehensive retrospective of the artist’s work ever staged, and his first solo exhibition at the Museum, from September 10, 2023, through January 13, 2024. Organized in close collaboration with the artist and mirroring his own cross-disciplinary approach, the exhibition will feature over 200 works, produced from 1958 to the present, in various media—including painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, artist’s books, and installation—displayed according to a loose chronology throughout the Museum’s sixth-floor galleries. Alongside the artist’s most acclaimed works, the exhibition will highlight lesser-known aspects of his practice, offering new perspectives on one of the most influential figures in postwar American art.
As part of this exhibition, Ruscha’s multisensory Chocolate Room (1970)—the artist’s only single-room installation—will be presented in New York for the first time. Created for the United States pavilion during the 35th Venice Biennale in 1970, it represents a major moment in his use of unexpected materials due to its immersive scale and ephemeral nature. To create the work, the artist screenprinted chocolate paste onto hundreds of sheets of paper, lining the walls from floor to ceiling. Following its original presentation in Venice, the work has been refabricated for subsequent installations by the artist’s preferred fabricator, La Paloma Fine Arts, who will be producing Chocolate Room on-site for its presentation at MoMA.
About the Artist
Ed Ruscha (b. 1937) was raised in Oklahoma City and moved to Los Angeles in 1956 to study commercial art at the Chouinard Art Institute (now CalArts). Beginning with these formative years, the exhibition will include rarely seen paintings and works on paper, which reference his extensive travels throughout the United States and Europe, revealing the artist’s keen attention to everyday sights—including roadside architecture, consumer items, and public signage. The exhibition will also reunite a number of breakthrough word paintings that Ruscha made shortly after completing his studies at Chouinard. Works, such as Oof (1962/1963), a painting in MoMA’s collection, demonstrate the artist’s longstanding fascination with the shape, sound, and impact of language. It depicts a one-syllable word with a bold shape and guttural sound that recalls the dynamic exclamations found in comic strips, while also highlighting Ruscha’s acute understanding of design and typography.