Five 1965 Girlfriends by Ed Ruscha

[Ed RUSCHA]. Design Quarterly 78/79. Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 1970.

4to.; illustrated throughout in black and white; printed wrappers; spine lightly toned. Near fine.

First edition. This is a double issue of the Walker Art Center’s architectural journal Design Quarterly which was devoted to “conceptual architecture” and comprised of a series of multi-page sections. Each section was created by one of the eleven designers, artists, or architectural firms who had been invited to contribute, and was printed exactly as they submitted it, without editing, commentary, or any alteration of the layout or overall design. Contributors included Peter Eisenman, Ant Farm, Archigram, Archizoom, and Superstudio, but the issue is most notable for Ed Ruscha’s contribution: a series of pages, in much the same style as his celebrated books, entitled Five 1965 Girlfriends. Ruscha’s inclusion in the journal reflects his renown in the architecture and design community, where he was then just as well known as in the art world, due to the popularity of his artists’ books with those who studied city planning and the design of urban spaces. This reached an apex in 1972 when Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown reproduced several images and made extensive reference to Ruscha’s Every Building on the Sunset Strip when they published their own classic work treatise, Learning from Las Vegas. Despite these bona fides, Ruscha’s plays against expectation here—rather than a study of vernacular urban Americana, he submitted photos of five girls he had dated in 1965 along with an artist photo in which he plays a Lothario type in embroidered Western shirt, full moustache, bedroom eyes, and a lock of hair carelessly fallen across his forehead.