debbie millman

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lost Horizon by Edward Ruscha

Photograph by Ed Ruscha

This article and photograph by Edward Ruscha appears in print today, on September 11, 2008, on page A25 of the New York Times.

When the 9/11 attacks took place, I thought of this photograph. I’d taken it many years before — on my first visit to New York, in 1961, in fact — but I looked for it anyway. It reminded me of Lower Manhattan, the twin towers, and then, of course, of their absence.

he view is from the back of the Staten Island Ferry. I remember it as the first all-American moment of my life, looking at the Statue of Liberty while eating a hot dog. I also remember the Financial District skyline, which appeared to me to be forlorn and empty, as if you could feel the buildings that were supposed to be there but weren’t.

I’d come to the city from Oklahoma and I was on my way to Europe. Then, as now, New York seemed a delicious place to visit, but not somewhere I could live. It was too big, too expensive, too accelerated. There was no way I could carry a two-by-four across town.

But it was an inspiration. I walked around with my Yashica camera, filled with black and white film, shooting whatever interested me: bricks, the street in front of my hotel on 34th Street, the old-fashioned scissor fence in this picture.

For me, it’s that scissor-gate on the back of the ferry that dates the image. It comes from another time. A slice of history that goes way back.

But everything else seems modern, up-to-date. When I look at the picture, which is over my desk in Los Angeles, I look for the towers, even though I know it’s impossible for them to be there. It’s hard to look at a photograph of that part of the city, no matter when it was taken, and not want to see them.

Edward Ruscha is an artist and the author of "Leave Any Information at the Signal.”


Blogger The Book Designer said...

I'm conflicted by ER. A part of me loves the work immeasurably. Another part of me feels like it Andy all over again. This shot is very nice. But there are so many that i scoff at...

But i'm an asshole.

9/12/2008 06:23:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Pincus said...

ruscha is a tonic.

9/18/2008 01:24:00 PM  

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Location: new york city, United States

Debbie Millman has worked in the design business for over 25 years. She is President of the design division at Sterling Brands. She has been there for nearly 15 years and in that time she has worked on the redesign of global brands for Pepsi, Procter & Gamble, Campbell’s, Colgate, Nestle and Hasbro. Prior to Sterling, she was a Senior Vice President at Interbrand and a Marketing Director at Frankfurt Balkind. Debbie is President of the AIGA, the largest professional association for design. She is a contributing editor at Print Magazine, a design writer at and Brand New and Chair of the Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. In 2005, she began hosting the first weekly radio talk show about design on the Internet. The show is titled “Design Matters with Debbie Millman” and it is now featured on In addition to “Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life and Design,” (HOW Books, 2009, she is the author of "How To Think Like A Great Graphic Designer" (Allworth Press, 2007) and “The Essential Principles of Graphic Design” (Rotovision, 2008).

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