top of page

After Ed Ruscha

Ruscha once said he finds »interest in what is interesting« (Brouws et al. 2013,6). In the 1960s, he produced books exploring mundane objects such as gasoline stations, babycakes, swimming pools, and parking lots. At the time, these objects were of little interest to artists. Moreover, Ruscha's books were not typical artist's books; they were small in format, printed on an offset machine, and sold at a low price of $3.50. He did not limit the number of copies printed and would produce more when the print run was finished.

When I looked through Ruscha's books, I was struck by their clean, minimalist design and typography. I particularly liked the font»Stymie« that he used for the cover of »Twentysix Gasoline Stations« (Ed Ruscha at Fonts in Use' 2020). Although the selection of subjects seems random, Kevin Hatch notes there is always a relation to Ruscha's biography (Hatch 2005,5). For example, the gasoline stations were on his route from Los Angeles to his parents' home in Oklahoma. »Babycakes with Weights« begins with a photo of his son, and the swimming pools were photographed during a time when Ruscha swam regularly (Hatch 2005,5).

With this in mind, I started my work, which was a preparatory task for a module during my studies at Falmouth University. Theme and layout were left to me; the only restriction was that it had to be in response to Ruscha's work.

Some Street Lights


When thinking about Ruscha, I think I must to do something with gasoline stations


24 Exposures about Kodak

Some Street Lights

For this book I worked on a subject Ruscha hadn't covered: street lights. The layout is inspired by the leporello format he used for »Every Building on Sunset Strip«. Contentwise, it is more related to Reinhard Voigt's »Every Mailbox on Read Road« At a second glance, there is another relation to Ruscha: It relates to my biography and interests. The night's appearance interests me, and I had chosen this subject for my Final Major Project (at this time, it had changed later…).


The Leporello is an interesting format. It is something between a book and an object. I think the reader is more forced to follow the image order the author had in mind than in a book.

When thinking about Ed Ruscha, I think I must do something with Gasoline Stations

There are two works with self-chosen subjects in this project, and here I will work with the subject of his first book, A Gasoline Station. And, yes, only with one, not 26. It is a gasoline station five minutes from my flat, built in the 1970s, close to a supermarket. Positively spoken, it shows some »patina«. I have chosen it because it is one of the old-fashioned filling stations where you can buy only gasoline and refill the air in the tyres or water in the radiator. It is a gasoline station similar to what Lars Mytting describes in »Fyksens Tankstelle« (Mytting and Frauenlob 2007).


Besides Ed Ruscha, the work was inspired by Dejan Habicht's »One Gasoline Station« (Brouws et al. 2013, 241.)


Nice fact: I like the »Stymie«-font Ruscha used for »26 Gasoline Stations« and used it (in a newer version) for the title and text (‘Ed Ruscha at Fonts in Use’ 2020).


I used a folded brochure/poster format for this. The inspiration for this came from Dejan Habicht's »One Gasoline Station« (Brouws et al. 2013, 241.). I think the unfolding of the brochure and the resulting big (DIN A3) image of the gasoline station gives the subject more importance. In fact, it is only an old filling station, but it is presented in a way others present expansive or rare sports cars.

24 Exposures about Kodak

As with »Some Street Lights«, I have chosen a subject Ruscha hadn't covered. The title says it all: »24 Exposures about Kodak«. I present 24 items made by or given way by the Kodak Company. It's a broad range, from old filmboxes (some still with film!), tools or chemicals directly related to photography, to things you could call »merchandise«. But again, there are connections to Ruschas's books: The objects are nothing special, commodities or advertising material.


The other connection is the biographical fact: This company accompanied me throughout my whole life. I got my first camera, a Kodak Pocket Instamatic 100, when I was seven. As an apprentice, I noticed that the photographers in the studio always preferred Kodak over Agfa or Fuji. I adopted this and shot most of the time with Kodak.


Over time, many items produced by Kodak found their way to me. I never actively collected them; they just came to me. And, to speak with Ed Ruscha, I found them interesting. I also think that I have some kind of relation to them. Perhaps it is some nostalgia. Even if you see where Kodak stands today – not the big yellow giant, only an image of times passed.The final product (is it a book or an object?) could also be interpreted as a counterpoint to one of Ruscha's statements: »I'm not intrigued that much with the medium… I want the end product; that's what I'm really interested in.« (Brouws et al. 2013,12). Here, one of the biggest brands of the medium is what is interesting.


I have chosen to present these items in a likewise nostalgic format: In cardboard cases similar to this, colour slides of touristic spots were offered to tourists. »Printed on Kodak Film« was often printed on them as a sign of quality (Is the image good if the material is good?). Today, they can be found on auction platforms for little money, but maybe an old shop still has some. Why 24 (believe me, there are more!)? It is the number of exposures on a shorter 135 film …


I have chosen to photograph the objects mundanely, not as elaborate still lives. As a background, I chose a paper with a colour that was, in my memory, often used for packshots.


BROUWS, Jeffrey T., Phil TAYLOR, Mark RAWLINSON and Edward RUSCHA (eds.). 2013. _Various Small Books: Referencing Various Small Books by Ed Ruscha_. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

‘Ed Ruscha at Fonts in Use’. 2020. _Fonts in Use_ [online]. Available at: []( [accessed 20 May 2020].

HATCH, Kevin. 2005. ‘”Something Else”: Ed Ruscha’s Photographic Books’. _October_ 111, 107–26.

MYTTING, Lars and Günther FRAUENLOB. 2007. _Fyksens Tankstelle: Roman_. München: Piper.

bottom of page