Allen Ruppersberg: Art on the Edge of Visibility, 1968-1972

Thesis, Master of Public Art Studies, USC Roski School of Fine Arts

The thesis for my graduate work at USC’s Roski School of Fine Arts in the Art and Curatorial Practices in the Public Sphere program focused on the early work of artist Allen Ruppersberg:

Allen Ruppersberg Al's Grand Hotel

An image from “Al’s Grand Hotel”

Allen Ruppersberg Al's Cafe

Allen Ruppersberg behind the counter at “Al’s Cafe”

Through the analysis of the early works of contemporary, Los Angeles-based Conceptual artist Allen Ruppersberg (born 1944), this thesis will examine and contextualize the artist’s engagement with the ideas of location, the conditions of the city that affected his process and the artist’s interest in the rejection of the preciousness of the art object. The artwork produced between 1968 and 1972 provides a discrete body of work focused within and utilizing images indicative of the site of Los Angeles, reflective of the region’s psychogeography and the reality of the individual’s requisite mobility in a city framed by freeways. Ruppersberg employed numerous strategies—particularly that of shifting reality only minutely to translate it into art—to investigate this confluence of ideas. The influence of Los Angeles on Ruppersberg’s early work is a crucial and under-examined point in L.A. art history and will be the subject of this manuscript.

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