Raymond Pettibon (b. 1957)

Raymond Pettibon was born Raymond Ginn in Tuscon, Arizona in 1957. He received a BA in Economics from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1977. It was around this time that the artist adopted the surname “Pettibon,” said to refer to his childhood nickname “petit bon.”

Throughout the late seventies and early eighties, Pettibon’s work was inextricably linked with the punk rock scene in Southern California through his association with Black Flag, the popular punk band founded by his brother, Greg Ginn. Pettibon’s illustrative, darkly humorous drawings, showcased on every Black Flag flyer and record cover, quickly became sought after by nearly every major West Coast punk band, who commissioned Pettibon to design their promotional materials. 

It was in the mid-1980s that Pettibon began emerging as a prominent figure in the contemporary art world. In 1992, he participated in a group show at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and, in 1993, his work was included in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s biennial, where the artist would participate again in 1997 and 2004, winning the Bucksbaum prize from the museum for his installation of drawings. In 2007, Pettibon’s work was exhibited at the Venice Biennale.

Pettibon is known for his graphic, comic-book style drawings of surfers, trains, noir scenes and pop culture figures, which are almost always paired with quotes from classic Western literature. The borrowed literary phrases are at times employed as narrative and in other instances used for satire. Often the text is twisted or expanded upon with Pettibon’s own writing. Viewed together, the drawings and phrases become philosophical musings or sardonic commentaries as the text is given new meaning through its pairing with the image, and vice versa. The work comments on a range of topics covering nearly every aspect of American culture, from philosophy to politics to the punk scene in 1980s Southern California.

Raymond Pettibon’s work is held in a large number of major permanent collections, including the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin; Tate Gallery, London; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Armand Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others.