Edward Ruscha, News, Mews, Pews, Brews, Stews & Dues, 1970. One of a series of six organic screenprints. The Museum of Modern Art, New York
For this series of six silkscreen prints, Ruscha began by gathering a bunch of everyday products, including baked beans, tulips, strawberries, and axle grease. He used a mortar and pestle to grind the ingredients, blending them together to produce bizarre organic inks. News, pictured here, was printed with black-currant preserves mixed with salmon roe. Temkin argues that Ruscha "flaunted the store-bought character of his materials," noting that on the portfolio's colophon he listed the brand name of each item (chocolate syrup by Hershey Foods, axle grease by Total Limited) as well as the market where he purchased it. But Ruscha's connection to the color-chart sensibility seems a tad tangential. To me, his process of grinding and mixing ingredients hearkens back to pre-industrial times, when artists made their own paint by grinding mineral pigments to a powder, which they mixed with a binding medium such as oil, milk, or eggs.