Ruscha Chapter 2

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S.R.: My second question is more a specific word in your talk yesterday. You were using some points as you were showing very American images, American constellations. If I understood it right you said: »These are universal pictures.» What did you mean by that?

R: I wonder what I was referring to, do you remember what pictures they were?

S.R: I think it was one with the gas stations.

R: Maybe I was speaking about it in abstract terms. Because I began to... the more I drove on highways in Western US which is I consider my sort of playground, you know as an artist and I love to drive on the western part of the United States. And I gasoline stations had this what I consider a kind of a zoom. That kind of thing to the architecture and it began to influence me and I can see this with not just an American thing but more like I say universal in a sense that it's so abstract that idea that architecture could have these different shapes and thrusts to them that I felt were not just American, the American ones they have the names on there and ones you realised what they are and the fact that they are in Arizona, New Mexico, California and Oklahoma. But the basic architecture itself goes back to something really primitive and universal.

S.R: Ok I understand this. There's another question connecting to your travelling through Europe. Do you think that your perspective on American culture was changed or your mind (??) through ur travelling in Europe [...] Do you think that your perspective on your own culture, American culture and all the images labels and so on was influenced by your travelling through Europe?

R: I think any kind of travelling is an educating experience. So Europe to me was something brand new and exotic. Almost like going to China, you know it was a we had images and preconceived notions of what Europe would be like, but I knew it would be exotic and different from America. But going there and I had no quest in mind I had no strategie,I didn't expect to find, I didn't know what to expect. I thought maybe I would look towards art as some kind of inspiration but I didn't find it in Europe particularly. I mean especially contemporary Art it didn't seem to exist while I was there and people came to reminding me you know that this war had happened and that it was to early in 1960 to expect any kind of artistic activity and contemporary art anyway which I was really interested in. But then I like I travelled through Germany and I saw artist like Roman Schneider you know the wood sculpture and I woke up when I saw his work. And other artists there too. Travelling through Europe was something I had to do, to satisfy my curiosity.

S.R.: So how was it for you? I read that you took the deux chevaux to the United States and did you drive it to the West Coast?

R: Yeah, I drove it from New York to California and I remember distincly that it cost me more to pay for (roadtools?) it cost me more (tools?) than it did for gasoline./unbelievable/ Yeah. Wouldn't happen today. But as I got back, you know I had this European experience of six/ seven months something like that, that I could see that when I got back to America that maybe I am more American then I realised I was. So it inforced my feelings about the United States and that somehow theres a kind of vulgarity here that I thought well maybe this is food for thought, food for the future.


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