If you subscribe to AMMdaily, you’ll already know about the $30m Ed Ruscha painting coming up at Christie’s. With a low estimate of $30m equal to the 2014 record price achieved for the artist, the sale may help shift market leadership toward Ruscha. The California artist has long been seen as having the potential to make a bigger impact on the overall market.
On November 13, Christie’s Evening Sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art will be highlighted by Ed Ruscha’s Hurting the Word Radio #2, 1964 (estimate: $30-40 million)* from the collection of Joan and Jack Quinn, Beverly Hills. Joan Quinn and her late husband Jack, represent a pivotal moment in the history of Contemporary art, as Los Angeles came to symbolize an innovative and prolific brand of creative freedom. Ruscha’s canvas being offered here is a sublime example of the conceptual creativity that emanated from Los Angeles in the early 1960’s, that which would make Ed Ruscha into one of the most revolutionary artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. The Quinns acquired Hurting the Word Radio #2 directly from the artist in the early 70s, marking this as the first time the canvas has ever been offered at auction.
Few individuals have left such an indelible mark on the artistic landscape of Southern California than Joan and Jack Quinn.
Jack Quinn, a prominent and influential attorney, was the youngest president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association and founder of Quinn Kully & Morrow, a firm that later merged with the prestigious Washington D.C. firm, Arnold & Porter. Quinn utilized his skills to help an array of emerging artists and their dealers, including the Ferus, Nick Wilder and Corcoran galleries, navigate the worlds of law and business.
In 1978, Andy Warhol asked Joan Quinn to join his Interview magazine as its West Coast editor, which she did through 1989. In addition to her work at Interview, Quinn served on the California Arts Council for 17 years, was the society editor of Angeles magazine and Hearst’s Herald Examiner , and the West Coast Editor for both Conde Nast Traveler and Germany’s Manipulator magazine. Quinn’s work at these publications – among others internationally – allowed her to further promote the work of their growing circle of Southern California creatives.
Known for her charisma, intelligence, and incomparable élan, Joan Agajanian Quinn has been a muse for artists such as Robert Mapplethorpe, Jean-Michel Basquiat, David Hockney, Ed Ruscha, Zandra Rhodes, Larry Bell, Frank Gehry, Ed Moses, Helmut Newton, Billy Al Bengston, Antonio Lopez, and many others. As artists sought to record her image across a variety of media, Joan Quinn has found herself with one of the world’s largest and most important collections of Contemporary portraiture—a poignant representation of friendship, appreciation and respect.
Based in Los Angeles, Ruscha arrived at his own brand of Pop based on the utilitarian styling of words and letters. His participation in the Los Angeles art scene in the early 1960s firmly established him as an influential figure whose conceptual rigor played a leading role during the movement’s early days. Ruscha’s paintings from the early 1960s stand at a pivotal point in art history when the tradition of painting fought to maintain its relevance in light of the beginnings of the Pop movement. In work’s such as Hurting the Word Radio #2, Ruscha successfully straddles both, connecting the painterly tradition to the new contemporary culture of advertising and mass-media.
Across an expansive sky blue canvas, the word “RADIO” is laid out in a juxtaposition of static and surreal sunshine yellow painted letters. Hurting the Word Radio #2 is an iconic example of Ed Ruscha’s c-clamp paintings, which also includes Hurting the Word Radio #1 (Menil Collection, Houston) and Not Only Securing the Last Letter but Damaging it as Well (Boss) (Museum Brandhorst, Munich). Here, the bold, stately letters synonymous with Ruscha’s practice become distorted and warped as trompe l’oeil c-clamps squeeze the “R” and tug on the “O,” distorting and transforming them in to rippled rubbery notes. Hurting the Word Radio #2 is an important early example of the artist’s revolutionary Text paintings—a body of work that would establish Ruscha as one of the most innovative and influential painters of the 1960s.