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Ed Ruscha. The Old Tech-Chem Building, 2003

Thomas Cole. View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm ? The Oxbow (1836). ©The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Ed Ruscha and Thomas Cole at the National Gallery of London


London, United Kingdom

Ed Ruscha (1937) and Thomas Cole (1801-1848), two separate but complementary exhibitions, are presented at the National Gallery of London since June to October 2018. 

In 2005, Ed Ruscha was asked to represent the United States at the 51st Venice Biennale. Dealing with the theme of “progress” or the course of progress, “Ruscha’s Biennale installation evoked Thomas Cole’s famous painting cycle of 1833-36, The Course of Empire, concurrently on display in the Ground Floor Galleries. Ruscha’s Course of Empire focuses on the industrial building of Los Angeles -simple, box-like, utilitarian structures with no pretension to beauty but redolent of economic might and global reach.

The two shows are staged alongside each other so as to highlight Cole's influence on Ruscha's practice.

Cole’s exhibition is the first dedicated to the self-taught artist from Boston and British-born, in UK.   Cole is known as the father of landscape painting in the US. The exhibition Eden to Empire contains 58 paintings, most of them on loan from North American museums. Cole’s paintings are shown alongside works by British artists with whom he was personally acquainted, as well as those who influenced him most, including William Turner and John Constable. Similar concerns of earth pollution, destruction and changes in the landscape affect these stunningly-accomplished paintings.



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