Biography

For over thirty years, Raymond Pettibon has been chronicling the history, mythology, and culture of America with a prodigious and distinctive voice. Through his drawings’ signature interplay between image and text, he moves between historical reflection, emotional longing, poetic wit, and strident critique.

Pettibon first received attention for his work when it was used in advertisements, zines, and record covers in the burgeoning Los Angeles punk scene of the 1980s. His work became identified with a brash and iconoclastic visual style that would influence and speak for an entire generation of disaffected youth. In spite of this impact, Pettibon’s link to the punk scene has obscured the scope of his thematic and stylistic vision and the important place he occupies in the history of contemporary art. He stands alongside a generation of Los Angeles artists who have tackled the dissolution of American idealism head-on using fragments of its own visual culture.

From the beginning of his career, Pettibon has employed drawing and writing in tandem to connect radically distinctive cultural forms — from movies and literature to comics and TV — and pieces of narratives from throughout history and culture. His visual universe is populated by the ghosts of the last century of American history, including such disparate characters as Charles Manson, Gumby, Superman, and Ronald Reagan. Pettibon hints at familiar and forgotten narratives in his work, while using an expressive approach to color, line, and gesture in order to provoke complex emotional states. Whether his work is addressing surfing, baseball, war, or family, or channeling the voices of John Ruskin, Henry James, or Allen Ginsberg, it manages to suggest both personal and universal perspectives on our shared cultural experience.

Raymond Pettibon (*1957, Tucson, AZ) graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1977. His work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions at institutions around the world, including the Renaissance Society, Chicago (1998); the Drawing Center, New York (1999); the Philadelphia Museum of Art (1999); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1999); Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (2002); Museion, Bolzano, Italy (2003); the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2005); Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Spain (2006); Kunstmuseum Luzern, Lucerne, Switzerland (2012); Kumu Kunstimuuseum, Tallinn, Estonia (2015); Deichtorhallen Hamburg – Sammlung Falckenberg, Hamburg (2016); and Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Austria (2016). Pettibon has also participated in a number of important group exhibitions such as the Whitney Biennial (1991, 1993, 1997, and 2004), the Venice Biennale (1997 and 2003), Documenta XI (2002), and SITE Santa Fe (2004 and 2010). He currently lives and works in New York.