Royal Road Test

Artist: Edward Ruscha (American, born Omaha, Nebraska, 1937)

Artist: In collaboration with Mason Williams (American, born 1938)

Artist: In collaboration with Patrick Blackwell

Date: 1967

Medium: Black offset printing

Dimensions: 9 7/16 × 6 1/2 × 3/16 in. (24 × 16.5 × 0.5 cm)

Classification: Books

Credit Line: Stewart S. MacDermott Fund, 1970

Accession Number: 1970.590.5


During the 1960s, Ruscha created a series of mass-produced, cheaply printed photographic books cataloguing the various kinds of banal roadside sites one might encounter on a typical drive through the American West, such as Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1962), Some Los Angeles Apartments (1966), and Nine Swimming Pools and a Broken Glass (1968). Ruscha's books paid tribute to and slyly parodied the romantic vision of the road epitomized by writers and artists such as Jack Kerouac and Robert Frank, while also subverting the rapidly expanding market for what the artist described as "limited edition, individual, hand processed photos." In Royal Road Test, Ruscha painstakingly documented himself dropping a vintage typewriter from a speeding Buick.