The Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM) is proud to present Ed Ruscha: INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH, the fruition of a three-year collaboration with artist Ed Ruscha. This project has been made possible by a grant from the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative, a program of the Philadelphia Center for Arts and Heritage, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, and administered by The University of the Arts, Philadelphia.
The centerpiece of the show is INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH SLEEP, a massive 9 by 23 foot tapestry based upon his 1989 painting of the same name. Woven at Flanders Tapestries in Belgium, the work marks a new chapter in Ruscha's storied career as his initial foray into use of fiber as a medium. The show will feature a number of Ruscha works, including the original INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH SLEEP loaned by the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, as well as several other loans from noted national institutions and the artist's personal collection. A catalogue, featuring essays by FWM Artistic Director Marion Boulton Stroud, Guest Curator Paul Schimmel, and Thomas Crow, a contributing editor of Artforum and the Rosalie Solow Professor of Modern Art at New York University's Institute of Fine Arts, has been produced in commemoration of this historic exhibition.
Ruscha's expansive canvases with their superimposed text are often associated with conceptions of West Coast landscapes as well as allusion to film and Hollywood's golden age. Though the cinematic scale is still in effect with INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH SLEEP, for this project Ruscha wanted to return to an earlier work that seemed both an appropriate fit for debut in Philadelphia and for revisiting via the process of weaving. He conjured notions of East Coast industry in its mid-20th Century prime and landscapes once dotted with factories, much of which is now neglected or has vanished as a result of gentrification.
In addition, the piece itself is quite literally the industrial product of a modern business that has integrated computer-assisted weaving technology with traditional aesthetics of the medium. No longer just a luxury ornament and symbol of princely power commissioned by European royalty, contemporary artists have embraced tapestry as another means for expanding the possibilities of their creative output. With this collaboration, Ed Ruscha and FWM have put themselves at the forefront of this constantly growing trend.
About The Curator
Paul Schimmel has served as the Chief Curator at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) since 1990. He has organized, or co-organized numerous exhibitions, and written for their accompanying publications, including such recent shows as Robert Rauschenberg: Combines, the most complete survey of the artist's Combine work ever mounted, and © MURAKAMI, a retrospective exhibition of the work of Takashi Murakami. He has also served as a National Endowment for the Arts panelist and was a recent recipient of the Bard College Center for Curatorial Studies Award for Curatorial Excellence.