Raymond Pettibon’s iconoclastic, edgy ink drawings, reminiscent of underground comic-strip panels, pulp-magazine illustrations, or noir film stills, gained early recognition in the late 1970s when they appeared on album covers and other printed pieces produced by fringe rock bands. These ventures led him to produce self-published books of his collated images, which he photocopied and distributed in small editions.
Pettibon’s working process has continued to be a cumulative one. Though he received no formal art-school training, he nonetheless admits to learning much from the graphic styles of artists such as William Blake, Francisco Goya, Edward Hopper, and John Sloan. His pictorial subjects derive from an ongoing “archive” of disparate images culled from books, magazines, movies, and television, then copied and either recombined or edited into visual fragments. Some images appear alone, but most are paired with handwritten texts–either the artist’s own or quotations from writers he is drawn to.
Pettibon’s drawings are typically exhibited in groups, sometimes of 100 or more, and are often pinned directly to the walls. Recently, he has begun to work with printmaking, translating his drawing style to lithographs such as those on view here. Like frames of a comic strip, his works are individually noteworthy for their economy of image and language. When viewed collectively, the pictures and texts form roving, disjointed narratives-by-association that provide a biting and often illuminating commentary on the character of American culture.
These prints join more than 20 ink-on-paper drawings by Pettibon in the permanent collection.