Sand in the Vaseline
The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
In 1974 the American artist Ed Ruscha wrote the text 'SAND IN THE VASELINE' in an egg yolk yellow on an almost square cloth of grey satin. To do this he used sans serif capital letters and the text fills virtually the whole cloth.
In the 1970s Ruscha became particularly well known for his word paintings in which he experimented with the typographical design of words, but also with materials other than those which are most commonly used in art. He was opposed to using paint and therefore looked for other, usually organic materials to paint with. In these paintings there is a curious relationship between what is written and how it is written. The egg yolk with which the text is painted has nothing to do with sand and vaseline, although these are both tangible substances. Ruscha wanted to confront the viewer with something which he did not know what to do with, to break down viewing habits and stimulate thought processes. He said: “Isn’t disorientation one of the best things about making art?”
In the early 1960s, Ruscha painted subjects such as petrol stations, blocks of flats or logos, sometimes in combination with texts and illustrations from comic strips. Because of his preference for subjects from modern urban life and mass communications he is classified as a representative of Californian Pop Art. However, on the basis of his affinity for language, his experiments with strange materials and his photographic books, his work can also be classified as Conceptual Art.
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