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Edward Ruscha

Two Sheets Stained with Blood

1973

Artist

Edward Ruscha (1937-)

Title

Two Sheets Stained with Blood

Date

1973

Medium

Gunpowder and blood on paper

Dimensions

Sheet: 11 9/16 × 29 1/16 in. (29.4 × 73.8 cm)

Credit line

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Gift of The American Contemporary Art Foundation, Inc., Leonard A. Lauder, President

Accession number

2005.50

Object Label

In 1969, Ed Ruscha became frustrated with the standard materials he used in his paintings and drawings. “I was concerned with the concept of staining something,” the artist explained, “rather than applying a film or coat or skin of paint on a canvas.” As alternatives to oil paint, Ruscha began to work with an inventive and often surprising range of organic materials, including axle grease, egg yolk, and blueberry extract. His experimentation with unorthodox substances extended to works on paper, including Two Sheets Stained with Blood. This drawing features two unconventional artistic materials, blood—belonging to a friend of the artist—and gunpowder, which Ruscha used in dozens of drawings in the late 1960s and early 1970s. As is typical of much of the artist’s work, a disarming graphic simplicity accompanies a host of sophisticated formal and pictorial dynamics. In a self-referential nod to his medium, paper is depicted on paper, and the two sheets appear to hover weightlessly—yet cast substantive shadows.