Book Review: VARIOUS SMALL BOOKS: Referencing Various Small Books by Ed Ruscha

Big little books

What a fascinating survey of creativity inspired by Ed Ruscha's photo books from a few decades ago. His 7 by 5.5 inch titles have several almost direct copies here, the famous 1963 'Twentysix gasoline stations' inspired the same title, size and cover design from Michalis Pichler in 2009 with photos of Total stations in Germany, Jeff Brouws, in 1992 and Eric Tabuchi, in 2009 modified the title to 'Twentysix abandoned gasoline stations', though Tabuchi's was a set of boxed postcards.

The book's title says 'small' but some are anything but: Mark Ruwedel's 'One thousand two hundred twelve palms' is 11.25 by 14.25 inches and Joachim Koester's 2007 'Occupied plots, abandoned futures' is no more than twelve framed prints on a gallery wall (one of two titles that are not books).

I thought it was wonderful that this collection of ninety-one titles carries on the sense of fun Rusha put into his originals. His 1970 'Babycakes' probably inspired Marcella Hackbardt's 2010 'Various unbaked cookies' and Boehme and Baskauskas 'Various blank pages' is just that: sixty-pages of photos of a blank page book. Incidentally, many of the titles imitate Ruscha's use of Rockwell, the typeface used on his covers.

The book is divided into seven dated sections starting in 1954 with a Japanese title revealing the Ginza in a very similar format to Rusha's 'Every building on Sunset Strip'. Most of the titles are post 2000 and self-published in very limited or open editions. I assume they are produced by print-on-demand techniques which is obviously ideal for this type of small-run photobooks. Editor Jeff Brouws did a nice job designing the pages (and printed with a 175 screen) though I would have appreciated an index.

'Various small books' is a delightful and intriguing look back at the continuing influence of Ed Rusha on photography. My only frustration is that I only have one of these marvellous books!

VARIOUS SMALL BOOKS: Referencing Various Small Books by Ed Ruscha is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP | CN) and Book Depository

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