Raymond Pettibon - Editions & Works on Paper New York Thursday, June 27, 2024 | Phillips
  • “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 a wall.”
    —Raymond Pettibon

    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.


    This outlook is no more apparent than in Pettibon’s drawings of surfers, a trademark motif in the artist’s oeuvre. 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.”i


    Katsushika Hokusai, The Great Wave at Kanagawa (from a Series of Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji), circa 1830-32, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, H.O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929

    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.


    i Raymond Pettibon, quoted in Nicholas Gazin, "Raymond Pettibon," Vice Magazine, October 31, 2011.


No Title (Hermosa Beach)

Monumental lithograph with hand-coloring in grey wash on the surfboard, on Saunders Waterford paper, the full sheet.
S. 45 1/4 x 67 1/2 in. (114.9 x 171.5 cm)
Signed and numbered 10/18 in pencil (there were also 6 artist's proofs), published by Brooke Alexander Editions, New York, framed.

Full Cataloguing

$40,000 - 60,000 

Sold for $50,800

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Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 27 June 2024