Playing with Food (for Art and Science)

August 31, 2016

Ed Ruscha sitting on the ground with various foods and flowers

Beginning with a series of prints in 1969, artist Ed Ruscha regularly used food and other household products in his artwork. In advance of the de Young’s special exhibition Ed Ruscha and the Great American West, Melon Fellow Heather Brown recreated Ruscha’s printing process in order to learn how best to care for these works.

Ruscha’s sense of humor shines through in this unconventional tool kit. He was inspired by the meanings of these items in popular culture and how they could serve as alternatives to paint with unexpected results in color and saturation. 

The results from this tasty experiment? Our paper conservation lab can now better advise on how often curators can safely exhibit the prints and recommend other specific requirements for display. The experiments featured in the video produced further insight about how light can alter the organic materials involved, giving the team valuable information about how to preserve Ruscha’s prints for many years to come.

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