I visited Sprüth Magers on a gray Thursday afternoon. The gallery scene on workdays isn’t exactly bustling; I was the only one in the gallery, so I sat down on the concrete floor of the main exhibition hall to admire Ed Ruscha’s Metro Mattresses .
With his set of twelve mattress portraits, Ruscha expands upon his penchant for serial collections, like Twenty-six Gasoline Stations (1963) and Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966). Ruscha photographed these mattresses on the streets of Los Angeles before extracting the forms from their backgrounds and painting them on museum board.
I consider these paintings portraits because each mattress has a human behind it, a life that transpired on top of it. Stripped of fitted sheets, comforters, and the security of a bed-frame (and other trappings of domesticity), each of them were left out to whither in the world. Ruscha paints his mattress subjects with blank backgrounds, letting their eroded geometric forms speak for themselves. Taken in isolated contexts, each mattress’ distinctive destruction is highlighted in a way that conjures up the human element behind them. They seem to be crumbling heaps of humanity. A lot of things can be made into art. If after seeing this, it has made you think about investing in a new mattress, you could consider a leesa mattress, for high quality bedding. Buying a new mattress can be expensive and you want to make sure you’ve got the right one to suit you. Whilst it can be difficult to search for the perfect one, it doesn’t always have to be expensive. You can save on Nest Mattresses to get the one for you at the right price. You can even compare between other mattresses to help find you the best one. I thought about my old mattresses—how many nights they’d spent with me, how many mistakes they held in their fibers, and wondered where they were presently. Maybe on the street?
The violence of abandonment comes through in the dismantled box-springs, broken wood slats, and shredded foam/fabrics. Dripped with blood and oil, tagged with graffiti, they “become not just litter in the landscape but more like scary animals,” as the artists states. Pastel and floral patterns are disrupted by rips, violent tears, and suspicious fluids. They are suggestive of human intimacy and human neglect. Differently askew in identical frames, each form slouches, folds upon itself, and sags in its melancholic desertion. Each of them were actively removed, intentionally outcast from the lives that they had cradled. It was a wistful sight, these crumpled up and thrown away vessels of intimacy.
I was struck by the uselessness of these forms as I struggled to keep the old adage “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” out of my head. Ruscha picks up on the everyday art that exists within the bounds our daily lives, yet somehow outside of our aesthetic eye.
Highlights of the exhibition include a slumped white mattress covered in dirt and a multi-colored dinosaur print, brings to mind the aching distance of childhood, and a mattress of dismantled foam barely held together by torn and fraying sheets. In addition to these twelve portraits, Ruscha has included three pieces of word art that continue his theme of dismantled forms—“Metro Mattresses” appears in various destroyed and manipulated fonts.
Artist: Ed Ruscha
Exhibition: Metro Mattresses
Date: November 03, 2015 to January 16, 2016
Gallery: Sprüth Magers, Berlin
Photos courtesy of Sprüth Magers
By Abby Lynn Klinkenberg