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The first opportunity in the UK to see Ed Ruscha's take on the cyclical nature of civilisation.

For the 2005 Venice Biennale, Ruscha selected a set of five black-and-white landscapes which he had painted in 1992 called Blue Collar Series, all of which feature his home city of Los Angeles.

Seven years later he revisited each site, seeing how the buildings had changed in the interim. Their functions had become unclear; Tech-Chem had been taken over by Fat Boy, and the trade school stood abandoned behind industrial fencing with its windows boarded. This time Ruscha painted them in colour, describing the works as ‘an accelerated, aged version of the same urban landscape.’

The combined series of 10 works is called Course of Empire in response to a sequence of paintings created by Thomas Cole in the 1830s, which is concurrently on view at the National Gallery in Thomas Cole: Eden to Empire. This is the first time ever that these two very different approaches to the same subject have been brought together simultaneously at a single institution.

National Gallery

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London, WC2N 5DN

020 7747 2885


Opening times

Daily 11am-6pm (Fri 11am-9pm).

Closed 24-26 Dec and 1 Jan.

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