Most people know Raymond Pettibon’s work, even if they don’t realize it. His witty and often vulgar drawings have been by used by bands and advertising executives for the last 50 years, most notably by seminal hardcore pioneers, Black Flag. But even though Pettibon’s iconic mix of subtlety and caricature have been replicated by pretty much every punk group and DIY venue, his work represents far more than just a mainstay emblem of punk rock. His art interjects cutting social and political commentary with sarcastic depictions of American culture, destroying any traditional notion of what separates art from rebellion.
A new exhibition, Raymond Pettibon: A Pen of All Work, brings together over 800 drawings from the 1960s until now, proving how the artist’s work has become a defining voice for over two generations. The collection obviously explores Pettibon’s role in developing what’s now become classic punk imagery, but also delves deeper into his aesthetic and inimitable style.
‘No Title (Do You Really),’ 2006
Through his art, Pettibon was instrumental in illustrating the decline of American idealism and Reagan-era values, dissecting pop culture through grit and violence. Raymond Pettibon: A Pen Of All Work showcases his unique ability to create highly intellectual work that is filled with both obvious reference and subtle nuance. His drawings move past comic imagery through intentional imperfection, evoking real and complex emotions that challenge viewers to question everything. But Pettibon’s real gift is his capacity to produce simple work that speaks volumes.
Raymond Pettibon: A Pen Of All Work is open now, until April 9, at The New Museum in Manhattan.
Photos courtesy of David Zwirner, New York