Ed Ruscha: Ex Libris
Ex Libris (2018) is a limited-edition lithograph made in support of the Redwood Library and Athenaeum in Newport, Rhode Island–the first purpose-built library in the United States. It is based on a large painting by Ruscha that was commissioned to commemorate a gift to the institution by renowned art historian and New Yorker critic Calvin Tomkins of his art book collection of more than five thousand volumes.
Playing off the design of an old-fashioned bookplate, the image features the term “Ex Libris” (“from the library of”) in large white sans serif type over red and blue bands. Surrounding the words is the image of an engraved wood ornamental frame of the sort developed in the nineteenth century by William Morris and Edmund Burne-Jones for Kelmscott Press. On either side of the frame, in small white letters, are the writer’s first and last names—a tribute to him that both evades and flanks the composition’s borders.