Raymond Pettibon - Evening & Day Editions London Thursday, June 6, 2024 | Phillips
  • “Waves. To me, it’s natural. It’s imagery that, for a lot of people around here anyway, is pornography.”
    —Raymond Pettibon

    The essence of Raymond Pettibon’s hometown, Hermosa Beach, California, resonates throughout the signature wave and surfer imagery that has become his trademark motif. In No Title (A Day Boy…), a colossal, crashing wave dominates the right of the composition, its energy palpable as it cascades across the paper before evaporating into nothingness. Amidst the tumultuous water, a surfer effortlessly navigates the barrel, embodying a sense of cool, collected composure. This juxtaposition foregrounds both the magnanimous force of the natural world and man’s attempt to reckon with it. In foregrounding nature’s sublime, Pettibon draws on a rich history of artists depicting natural wonders, from Albert Bierstadt’s epic panoramas of the American West to Katsushika Hokusai’s Great Wave. Nonetheless he maintains a distinct, contemporary disposition and sense of narrative. Untitled (A Day Boy…) captures a suspenseful moment, evoking what might be an inevitable fate or a miraculous feat, at once inspiring awe and terror. However, although Pettibon’s surfers regularly balance at the precipice of danger and exhilaration, they never fall. Rather, the surfer glides casually along the wave towards the empty space, as if riding into nirvana. In this way, Pettibon’s figures embody a laid-back confidence and optimism - a sense of “going with the flow” – a nod to the artist's Southern Californian disposition.


    Katsushika Hokusai, The Great Wave, c. 1830-32, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929, JP1847 
    Albert Bierstadt, Among the Sierra Nevada, California, 1868, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. Image: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Bequest of Helen Huntington Hull

    Growing up amidst the vibrant counter-culture and punk-rock movements of the 1970s, Pettibon's formative years have left an indelible mark on his artistic expression. The changing landscape of the Hollywood at that time, particularly iconic album covers from bands including Black Flag and Sonic Youth, inspired both his subject matter and style of draughtsmanship. Pettibon would also cull imagery from all corners of American popular and underground culture: comics, film noir, baseball, organised religion, rock and roll, and more. This eclectic blend is evident in his work, where text assumes a significant role and the artist often marries phrases from his favourite writers, such as Byron and Dickens, with his wave and surfer imagery. In the present lot, for instance, the words “A Day Boy” and “A Day Job” are revealed almost like a whisper amongst the crashing waves, isolated and decontextualised from their original source. These textual additions imbue the artwork with an evocative and ambiguous sense of storytelling, conjuring nostalgia and hinting to Pettibon’s earlier comic book-inspired creations.


Untitled (A Day Boy…), from Faster, Jim

Lithograph, on wove paper, the full sheet.
S. 46 x 76.2 cm (18 1/8 x 30 in.)
Signed and numbered 'T.P. 7' in pencil (a trial proof, the bound book edition was 27), published by Hamilton Press, Venice, California (with their blindstamp), framed.

Full Cataloguing

£5,000 - 7,000 

Sold for £13,970

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Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 6 - 7 June 2024