“CAPACITY TO SURPRISE, DELIGHT AND PUZZLE IN EQUAL MEASURE”
RUSCHA, Edward. Then & Now. Hollywood Boulevard 1973-2004. (Göttingen, Germany): Steidl, (2005). Oblong folio, original cream cloth, original mylar, original slipcase. $1250.
First edition of Ruscha’s influential Los Angeles photobook, boldly signed by him in black felt pen, a panorama of Hollywood Boulevard, photographed first in 1973 and again in 2004 in his unmistakable “deadpan photographic style” (Parr & Badger) and printed in continuous full-color and black-and-white strips.
Then & Now, like the best of Ed Ruscha's works, possesses a rare "capacity to surprise, delight and puzzle in equal measure" (Parr & Badger II:141). In this flamboyant yet elegant photobook, Ruscha's panoramic images of 12 miles of Hollywood Boulevard, taken in 1973 and again in 2004, are shown in a series of bands printed full-bleed across double-page displays. The first artist's book independently created by Ruscha since 1972, Then & Now echoes his revolutionary Los Angeles works of the 1960s while adding vivid color to the format he introduced in Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966). Like that volume, which also "took one specific location… photographed it in its entirety… and joined [the images] together to make two long panoramas," Then & Now offers "the deadpan photographic style that distinguishes all of Ruscha's photobooks" (Parr & Badger II:143). Ruscha's vision has made "it clear that a closer look can often reveal not the truth but the essential emptiness of important social myths" (Roth, 26). Containing 4500 black-and-white and 13,000 full-color images, the original 1973 north side of the street is juxtaposed with the 2004 color images on the top half of the pages; with the original 1973 south side of the street and its 2004 color version, shown upside down. See Roth 182; Open Book 198.
A fine copy, scarce signed.