In 1963, Ed Ruscha published his first artist's book, an unassuming paperback featuring 26 black-and-white snapshots of gasoline stations along Route 66 between Los Angeles and Oklahoma City. Unlike typical artist's books, Twentysix Gasoline Stations was produced through a commercial printer, and copies were sold for just $3 each. The art world wasn't quite sure how to make sense of the book, and the Library of Congress declined the work for its collection. Decades later, this book is considered a seminal work of one of the country's most celebrated artists.
Ruscha has received international acclaim for his work, especially for his paintings incorporating words and phrases and for his iconic artist's books. Ruscha's work has been exhibited internationally for three decades and is represented in major museum collections around the world.
Ruscha recently placed his archive at the Ransom Center. The collection illuminates his creative process through personal journals filled with preliminary sketches and ideas. The archive also includes notes, correspondence, photographs, contact sheets, and other materials related to the creation of his artist's books and portfolios, his films Premium (1971) and Miracle (1975), and several art commissions.
This acquisition was made possible through the generosity of Jeanne and Michael Klein, the Marlene Nathan Meyerson Foundation, and Mark Wawro and Melanie Gray. Ruscha also generously donated to the Ransom Center original print portfolios, a full collection of his exhibition posters, two original films, and his celebrated artist's books.
The Ransom Center also recently acquired the archive of novelist and poet Julia Alvarez. Known for her acclaimed novels In the Time of the Butterflies (1994) and How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents (1991), Alvarez writes poignantly about topics that remain central to current cultural debates, from immigration to bicultural identity. Her voluminous archive comprises manuscripts, correspondence, journals, and professional files. The manuscripts span her writing career and include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, essays, and unpublished works, often in multiple drafts.
The Center is now home to an important collection of Robert E. Howard (1906–1936) papers. Howard, a prominent and prolific writer in the fantasy genre, is perhaps best known for creating the character Conan the Barbarian. Howard wrote more than 100 stories for pulp magazines of his day, though his career spanned only 12 years before he committed suicide at the age of 30. This collection, which was donated to the Ransom Center by the Estate of Glenn Lord, includes more than 15,000 pages of manuscripts, sketches, and ephemera. Lord, a Texas literary agent, editor, and publisher of Howard's prose and poetry, is considered the first and most prominent researcher of Howard's life and writings.