Haunted by a pop art painting from my childhood -- who painted it?
April 14, 2008 5:10 AM   Subscribe

60s pop art painting of a Gulf sign -- who is the artist?

In the early 70s, when I was a child, I used to go to a restaurant that had striking contemporary art on the walls. One of these art works still haunts my mind: a stark-looking Gulf sign rendered as it would be seen from below. I've thought of it often in the last 35 years, but never seen it again.

The feel and look of the art were similar to this Ed Ruscha painting of a Standard station. I can't find any indication that he ever painted a Gulf sign, though. Can anyone help me identify the art I remember -- and maybe even find a place to buy it?

(I should add: The restaurant has been gone for over 20 years; no way to trace the art through them.)
posted by ROTFL to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Could it have been June Moon by Allan D'Arcangelo?
posted by newmoistness at 6:58 AM on April 14, 2008

It's just the sign, right? Not the whole station? I feel like I've seen this painting before, hmmm...
posted by meta_eli at 7:04 AM on April 14, 2008

Response by poster: Wow, newmoistness, "June Moon" is really lovely -- but that wasn't it. I distinctly remember the Gulf sign being the version I linked to above.

meta_eli, yes, it is just the sign. I think it may have been even a partial view of the sign. In that respect, it's similar to "June Moon," but it's only a single panel. I'm glad you vaguely remember such a piece, too -- good to know I'm not just misremembering something I saw when I was 7 or so...
posted by ROTFL at 8:15 AM on April 14, 2008

I think it's a Ruscha too, but I can't find it online.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:31 AM on April 14, 2008

Could it have been a print, rather than a painting? (Just because I think Ruscha's online catalogue raisonne only covers his paintings, rather than his prints.)

And this was definitely the early '70s and not later? (If there was a chance it was later, I would suggest Saul Chase's Gulf Station 2 from 1980 as a long-shot.)
posted by scody at 12:13 PM on April 14, 2008

Response by poster: Yes, scody, it could well have been a print -- it's likely to have been a mass-produced print, actually, because this restaurant was a coffee shop, and I'm sure their art budget was limited.

There were other, similar posters in the place with a similar theme. They may have been part of a series, but I can't remember the other pieces, so I can't be sure. I recall vaguely that there were other images of signs or roadside sights, but I couldn't swear to it.

It was definitely the early 70s. Wouldn't have been later than 1975 or so, probably earlier ('72? '73?).
posted by ROTFL at 1:10 PM on April 14, 2008

Response by poster: ... But... I should add that this coffee shop was in a ritzy Manhattan neighborhood, so who knows -- maybe someone splurged on some limited-edition serigraphs or something.
posted by ROTFL at 1:14 PM on April 14, 2008

right, I figured you were probably looking at a poster/print in the coffee shop, but I was just wondering if you could tell if the original artwork itself was definitely a painting, or perhaps a work on paper (like a silkscreen). There's a few curators I can ask where I work (one is exclusively a works on paper curator, though, so didn't know if I should leave him out of the mix or not). I'll see if they have any ideas about what the original artwork could be.
posted by scody at 1:37 PM on April 14, 2008

Response by poster: scody, how kind of you to offer to do that. I wish I could tell you whether the original was a painting or a work on paper, but I just don't know.

I can tell you that I don't recall seeing any identifier on the piece; I don't think there was any border with an artist name, a museum name, or any such thing. I just remember looking at the thing and feeling a kind of tingle; it was beautiful and just a tiny bit spooky. The piece really was quite evocative, even for a little kid. Interestingly, I get the same sort of feeling from Ruscha's Standard station series...
posted by ROTFL at 3:02 PM on April 14, 2008

Hi ROTFL -- so far, no news. I asked a couple curators here at the museum and they haven't come up with anything. Sorry!
posted by scody at 12:38 PM on May 2, 2008

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