Deborah Kass 1952 –

On July 4th, one of Deborah KassOY/YO sculptures was unveiled outside the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History on Independence Mall in Philadelphia. The OY/YO sculpture has already been added as a stop on Philadelphia tour buses.

OY/YO began as a painting. Its message resonated across language and cultures, and Kass turned it into a sculpture.

It’s especially appropriate in Philadelphia, where YO is a Philly greeting, popularized by Sylvester Stallone’s “YO, Adrian” in his Rocky movie.

The sculpture in Philadelphia is one of three large OY/YO sculptures, measuring 8 feet tall, 16 feet wide, and 5 feet deep. It’s made of aluminum and painted Lamborghini yellow.

One was installed outside Stanford University’s Cantor Art Center in 2019.  Another is outside the Brooklyn Museum and has recently been wrapped in blue, to show support for the people of Ukraine, whose colors are yellow and blue.

“I created OY/YO thinking about the American promise of equality and fairness and our responsibilities to make the country a better place for all,” said Kass. “With hate and division now on the rise, it is urgent to see our commonalities, what we share, and what brings us together.”

Deborah Kass lives and works in Brooklyn. Her works are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney, the Guggenheim, the Jewish Museum in New York, the Museum of Fine Art, Boston, the National Portrait Gallery the Smithsonian Institution, the Fogg Museum at Harvard and other major venues.

Ed Ruscha 1937 –

I like the idea of a word becoming a picture, almost leaving its body, then coming back and becoming a word again. – Ed Ruscha

Deborah Kass said that Ed Ruscha’s painting OOF was the inspiration for OY/YO.

Ed Ruscha was born in Nebraska, raised in Oklahoma City and traveled to Los Angeles in 1956 to study art the California Institute of the Arts.

His use of words as visual content in his work has become his signature style.

His first major retrospective was held in 1982 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. For the exhibition catalogue cover, he chose a drawing made in 1979, which features the words “I don’t want no retro spective”. Ruscha’s work became popular with Japanese collectors entering the contemporary art market in the late 1980s, suddenly driving up demand for his work. He later joked that he had become a “twenty-five year overnight sensation.”

One of his recent projects, at age 84, is the artwork for new box set of 80-year-old Paul McCartney. According to McCartney, the men have shared a friendship and mutual admiration. “I first met Ed Ruscha through my daughter, Stella,” McCartney wrote, “and since then have visited his studio quite a few times. He is a very easy going, humorous guy and ‘of course’ a very skillful painter. His treatments are ingenious and intriguing. Nancy asked Ed to paint a picture for my birthday which uses the phrase ‘For Life’ which is taken from the song ‘My Valentine’, which I wrote for her. It is a beautiful picture with the text in his usual deadpan signature style. The lettering font he uses reminds me of art classes I used to take as a teenager in the Liverpool Institute where we learned to write the alphabet in this style and I enjoyed it so much I even offered to do the lettering on one piece of George’s homework!”

The boxed set is scheduled for release on August 5, 2022.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Deborah Kass and Ed Ruscha available at VFA.

Tom Gralish. Scene Through the Lens | July 4, 2022. The Philadelphia Inquirer. July 4, 2022.
Danya Henninger. 10 things to know about the new OY/YO sculpture outside Philly’s Jewish museum. BillyPenn Newsletter. April 28, 2022.
Alison Fox. This Museum of American Jewish History Just Reopened in Philadelphia After 2 Years — Here’s What’s New. Travel and Leisure. June 12, 2022.
Anna Rahnanan. The Brooklyn Museum’s ‘OY/YO’ sculpture is now wrapped in blue. TimeOut. March 4, 2022.
Paul McCartney. Paintings On The Wall – Ed Ruscha/A PS from PM. March 14, 2019.
Bass Magazine. Paul McCartney Releases Boxed Set With His Three Iconic Solo Albums. June 17, 2022.