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Raymond Pettibon

In the early 1980s California-based artist Raymond Pettibon first began making his signature inkwash drawings - combinations of cartoon-like images with short, enigmatic texts - to adorn the record covers of underground music groups like Black Flag and Sonic Youth. After turning a generation of punk fans into unwitting art collectors, Pettibon was gradually picked up by the established art world as an artist producing some of the most unusual new representational artwork being made. Although he also produced paintings, collages, artist's book, videos and fanzines, Pettibon is known for his prolific production of drawings. These drawings have a great cumulative effect; they become increasingly intriguing the more one sees of them. Much has been made of Pettibon's literary background and reclusive personality as the biographical sources for these humorous yet dark, complex pictures. Yet the artist claims that his work has nothing to do with his own experience but is culled from the printed pages of American popular underground culture: Gumby, Ronald Reagan, surfers, Joan Crawford. At times his drawings seem almost dashed off from a comic strip; other are more painstakingly drawn. Most are in a simple graphic style combined with bits of text - sometimes weiredly connected to the imagery, but often providing baffling non-sequiturs. His unusual draftsmanship and mysterious personality have made him one of the most sought-after artists currently working in America. After appearing in numerous Whitney Biennials, in recent years Pettibon had his first museum-organized retrospective (at New York's Museum of Modern Art and the Drawing Centre) with more than 500 drawings covering some 20 years' work, establishing definitively his reputation in the uppermost ranks of contemporary American art.
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Table of Contents

Interview - Poet, critic and novelist Dennis Cooper speaks with the artist about such obsessions that recurs in Pettibon's work as baseball, film noir and Gumby. *Survey - Museum of Modern Art Curator Robert Storr examines the full scope of Pettibon's prolific career, setting the artist firmly within the tradition of Western figurative painting. *Focus - Critic and curator Ulrich Loock looks at a single strands in Pettibon's oeuvre, the drawings centring on the character Vavoom, who cries out hopelessly to the empty world around him. *Artist's Choice - The artist has chosen three extracts, from the book Modern Painters, by John Ruskin; The Art of English Poetry, by George Puttenham (c. 1529-90), and Laurence Sterne's The Life and Opions of Tristram Shandy. *Artist's Writings - A compilation of early interviews, song lyrics and scripts from as-yet-unmade videos on such subjects from Jim Morrison to the artist/model relationship make up the Artist's Writings section. *Chronology and Bibliography

About the Author

Robert Storr (Survey) is Curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. His writings have appeared in Artforum, Village Voice and Parkett, among other publications. Storr is the author of numerous monographs, including Philip Guston and Louise Bourgeois. Author's Residence: New York, U.S. Dennis Cooper (Interview) is a novelist and critic, contributing editor of Spin magazine, and a frequent contributor to Artforum. He has published a number of novels, among them Frisk (1991), as well as a collection of poems, The Dream Police: Selected Poems 1969-93. Author's Residence: Los Angeles, USA Ulrich Loock (Focus), is Director of the Kunstmuseum Luzern. Previously he was Director of the Kunsthalle, Bern, where in 1995 he organized a major exhibition of Raymond Pettibon. He has written extensively on Conceptual art and contemporary art in general, including the Survey text for Luc Tuymans (Phaidon, 1996). Author's Residence: Luzern, CH For his Artist's Choice Pettibon his provided his own marked copy of James Joyce's masterpiece Finnegan's Wake (1939), with the artists own notes in the margins during his reading of this influential text. The artist has also chosen an excerpt from Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy (1769), which parallels Pettibon's own strangely obsessive themes. Raymond Pettibon has written numerous screenplays, some excerpted here, all published for the first time on this ocasion. Other never-before-published Artist's Writings include song lyrics, extracts from his handwritten notebooks, and an original artist's books. Artist's Residence: Los Angeles, California


"Apart from the obvious delights of the images... There are essays, interviews, as well as never before published video screenplays, song lyrics and an LSD derived homage to beatnik poetry. Refreshment for body and mind."-Sleaze Nation On the Contemporary Artists Series "The boldest, best executed, and most far-reaching publishing project devoted to contemporary art. These books will revolutionize the way contemporary art is presented and written about."-Artforum "The combination of intelligent analysis, personal insight, useful facts and plentiful pictures is a superb format invaluable for specialists but also interesting for casual readers, it makes these books a must for the library of anyone who cares about contemporary art."-Time Out "A unique series of informative monographs on individual artists."-The Sunday Times "Gives the reader the impression of a personal encounter with the artists. Apart from the writing which is lucid and illuminating, it is undoubtedly the wealth of lavish illustrations which makes looking at these books a satisfying entertainment."-The Art Book

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