Twentysix Gasoline Stations. Photographs by Ed Ruscha. Ed Ruscha, Los Angeles, 1969. 48 pp. Octavo (small size). Third edition of 3000 copies (originally published in 1963 in an edition of 400 numbered copies; second edition, 1967 500 copies). Stiff printed wrappers. 26 black-and-white reproductions.
"Not quite a joke, the idea is at least as complex as the puns and isses posed by Duchamp's urinal; we are irritated and annoyed by the act, but feel compelled to resolve the questions it raises. The urinal resolved in favor of Duchamp; for Ruscha and the movement it represents, the issue is still in doubt"--Philip Leider, Artforum, Sept. 1963, cited in Sylvia Wolf, Ed Ruscha and Photography., p. 120.
"On a rainy November evening in 1964, in a bookstore across the street from the University of Texas in Austin, I came upon five thin white books stacked on a waist-high breakfront shelf. On the cover of the top book, three lines of bold, red serif type announced:
TWENTYSIX GASOLINE STATIONS
I picked one up and opened it. The title page read TWENTYSIX/GASOLINE/STATIONS/EDWARD RUSCHA/1962,[sic] and I immediately thought, 'Sixty two! I'm two years late!'--because the book was the coolest thing I'd ever seen. Well, maybe not altogether cooler than the Warhols I'd seen that summer, but cooler in a plainer, more cowboy way. Because the contents of Edward Ruscha's book were exactly as advertised: twenty-six blunt photographs of gasoline stations with captions noting their location...The book was arranged, then, so that our progress through its pages, left to right, was roughly analogous to our progress across a map from west to east, while the narrative obviously recounted a journey from Los Angeles to Oklahoma City and back. Thirteen tanks of gas one way and thirteen the other! How cool! I thought, How Pop-Joycean! And then, for reasons I can only attribute to Ruscha's subtle genius, I counted the unnumbered pages. There were fifty-two of them, front and back, including the covers - twenty-six individual pages! Somehow, I had known there would be, and, clearly, if we moved through this book as we move across a map, as we move across America, and the number of physical pages corresponded to the number of objects depicted... well, hell, it all might mean something! The complete object might be speaking to us in some odd language of analogue and incarnation.
In that moment, I became an art critic--or, more precisely, an art dealer, since I bought all five books. Because it wasn't just personal. Ruscha's book nailed something that, for my generation, needed to be nailed: the Pop-Minimalist vision of the Road. Jack Kerouac had nailed the ecstatic, beatnik Road. Ken Kesey and Neal Cassady were, at that moment, nailing the acid-hippie Road, and now Ruscha had nailed the road through realms of absence - that exquisite, iterative progress through the domain of names and places, through vacant landscapes of windblown, ephemeral language..."
--excerpted from Dave Hickey, Edward Ruscha: Twentysix Gasoline Stations, 1962--photographer Artforum, Jan. 1997
Fine- in Near Fine wrapper; previous bookseller's price in pencil on title page; two small chips and light wear to upper edge of glassine.