From the archive
RUSCHA, Ed. Babycakes. New York: Multiples Inc., 1970.
12mo.; illustrated throughout in black and white; hole punch bound with pink ribbon; green velour letter on blue wrappers. Fine.
First edition; one of 1,000 copies. Ed Ruscha’s contribution to the Artists + Photographs box set published by Multiples Inc. in 1970 is one of his most perfectly realized books. Babycakes begins with an image of a baby captioned with its weight and then continues with a series of snapshots of cakes, all likewise captioned with their weight. Ruscha takes the convention of listing a newborn’s weight in announcing the birth of a child and skews it so it becomes a kind of tongue-in-cheek information art, then wraps it up in a cute blue, pink, fuzzy-lettered package. It is not only the odd mixing of the vernacular with the conceptual that is so characteristic of Ruscha, but the attention paid to the book as a physical object, and the typically deadpan delivery of it all. The book has that inexplicable thing, that “kind of Huh?,” that Ruscha said he was always looking for.