Raymond Pettibon - Editions & Works on Paper New York Tuesday, April 19, 2022 | Phillips

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  • "…Therefore whatever you are—that is, whatever the substance by which you are what you are, I am nine-tenths the water…" Raymond Pettibon is widely recognized as one of America’s most inventive representational artists, known for his ink wash drawings combined with text. Pettibon grew up in Hermosa Beach, California, a location implicit to the subject matter of his work’s enduring themes. Growing up at the pinnacle of the counter-culture and late punk-rock movements, his upbringing would become indelible to his work. He was only 12 years old during 1969, which marked a true turning point in pop culture. The changing Hollywood landscape of this time undoubtedly inspired his early work, such as album covers for bands like Black Flag and Sonic Youth. Eventually, he began culling from every corner of American popular and underground culture for his drawings: comics, film noir, baseball, organized religion, figures of rock and roll, Ronald Reagan, Charles Manson, and more. But Pettibon didn’t just passively observe—these subject matters spoke to him because of what they revealed about society. Instead of glorifying these themes, he critiqued them. 


    Raymond Pettibon in his studio. Image courtesy of Contemporary Art Curator Magazine 

    This outlook is no more apparent than in Pettibon’s drawings of surfers, a trademark motif in the artist’s oeuvre. When the novelist-critic Denis Cooper asked Pettibon what draws him towards the surfers, Pettibon answered, “Sometimes it is a visual interest, but it can also be the way something like surfing describes a society, and the people in it. I’ve done a lot of large drawings and prints of that imagery. It has that epic nature, that sublime nature that almost asks you to reproduce it full sized on the wall.”1  


    Raymond Pettibon signing Untitled (Hermosa Beach) for Brooke Alexander Editions at Derriére L’ Etoile Studio in Long Island City 

    When set alongside the all-consuming force that are waves, multilayered meanings arise in which the inconsequence of humankind is pitted against the magnanimity of Mother Nature. Thus ironically, the overall sentiment of ‘going with the flow’ goes hand in hand here with the laissez-faire culture of beach life, which the artist no doubt became accustomed to. “Waves. To me, it’s natural,” Pettibon replied when asked about his favorite theme to draw. “It’s imagery that, for a lot of people around here anyway, is pornography…Each time I don’t know how it’s going to look, like it’s an ordeal or a challenge.” On the subject of placing surfers amidst these giant swells, he explained, “I grew up near the beach. Violence at the shoreline can be worse than street violence sometimes. Local surfers are despised and hated by most other surfers throughout the world. There are good days, but if the waves aren’t coming, you’re sitting on the sand and praying for surf all year. Then you go and poach other people’s breaks.”2   


    Balancing at the precipice of danger and exhilaration, in most of Pettibon's surf images, his surfers never fall, and always carry a sense of laid-back confidence and optimism - a nod to the artist's Southern California vibe. His surfing series successfully evoke people's resonance while pursuing inner peace in a chaotic reality, striking the art world through their poetic and philosophical representation. 


    Denis Cooper, “Interview: Dennis Cooper in conversation with Raymond Pettibon,” in Raymond Pettibon, New York, 2001, p. 25   
    Raymond Pettibon, quoted in Nicholas Gazin, Raymond Pettibon, Vice Magazine, October 31, 2011. 


Untitled (Hermosa Beach)

Monumental lithograph with hand-coloring, on Saunders paper, the full sheet.
S. 45 x 67 1/2 in. (114.3 x 171.5 cm)
Signed and numbered 7/48 in pencil, published by Brooke Alexander Editions, New York, framed.

Full Cataloguing

$80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for $214,200

Contact Specialist


212 940 1220

Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 19 - 21 April 2022