F&M College Library

Artists' Books at Franklin & Marshall


Franklin & Marshall College Library

November 2015 - February 2016

Make Your Own

Make and distribute your own democratic multiple to commemorate Twentysix Gasoline Stations and the birth of the modern artists' book.  Click on the "Mapping Ed Ruscha" mini book link below and print out the double-sided pdf on a sheet of 8 1/2 x 11" paper (printing in color is highly recommended!).  Then follow these instructions to make it into a six-page book.


Catalog Essay





This year Twentysix Gasoline Stations, the classic artists’ book by Ed Ruscha (American painter, photographer, and printmaker, b. 1937), turned 53.  Most critics and scholars who write about contemporary artists’ books agree that this 1963 publication “is generally cited as the founding instance of artist’s bookmaking.”  Franklin & Marshall Library’s own copy of “Twentysix’ (from the third printing) is one of a growing number of items in its Artists’ Books Collection, a teaching and research resource for the liberal arts.


Twentysix Gasoline Stations is exactly what it says:  photos of 26 gas stations taken by Ruscha in 1962 along old Route 66 between Los Angeles, where he lived, and Oklahoma City, where he had family.  But that the book has achieved legendary status is perplexing to some.  Even the artist himself admits, “There is a very thin line as to whether this book is worthless or has any value—to most people it is probably worthless.”

This exhibit maps the enigmatic ‘Twentysix’ over the more than half a century of its existence by using critiques, the artist’s own words, pop-culture references, lists, fun facts, and a prediction that never came true.  Altogether they demonstrate the work’s enduring significance and reinforce its substantial place in contemporary art and culture.

Louise Kulp, Librarian

November 2015