Norm's, La Cienega, on Fire
About This Artwork
Norm’s diner is a roadside icon, one of a number of twenty-four-hour restaurants that populates Southern California, slinging pancakes to paying customers. For Ed Ruscha, Norm’s carried the same graphic status as the Hollywood sign, the titles at the beginning of movies, or the bright gasoline signs of Standard Oil Company, all of which became subjects for the artist’s work in the 1960s, all symbols of the American landscape, atmosphere, and even the particular idiom of English that Americans speak. Norm’s, La Cienega, on Fire is the first painting by Ruscha of a building set ablaze. The fire brings a surreal edge to the classical, archetypal scene, burning with an almost comic enthusiasm, a moment of expressive energy and even melodrama in a clean, well-lit world.