Raymond Pettibon 2011/07/04 01:17 by 장파

Raymond Pettibon (born Raymond Ginn on June 16, 1957 in Tucson, Arizona) is an American artist who currently lives and works in Venice Beach, California.

Pettibon earned an economics degree from UCLA and worked as a high school mathematics teacher for a short period, before pursuing a completing his BFA in 1977.

In 1977, his brother, guitarist/songwriter Greg Ginn, founded the influential punk rock band Black Flag. Initially, Pettibon had been a bass player in the group when it was known by the name Panic. When the band discovered that another band called Panic existed, Pettibon suggested the name Black Flag and designed their distinctive "four bars" logo.  Around the same time, Pettibon adopted his new surname, from the nickname petit bon (good little one) given to him by his father.  Pettibon’s artwork appeared on flyers and records for Black Flag through the early 1980s, and he became well known in the Los Angeles punk rock scene.

Known for his comic-like drawings with disturbing, ironic or ambiguous text, Pettibon's subject matter is sometimes violent and anti-authoritarian. From the late 1970s through the mid-1980s, he was closely associated with the punk rock band Black Flag and the record label SST Records, both founded by his older brother Greg Ginn. Beginning in the mid 1980s, he became a well-known figure in the contemporary art scene.

Pettibon works primarily with Indian ink on paper and many of his early drawings are black and white, although he sometimes introduces color through the use of pencilwatercolorcollagegouache or acrylic paint. Pettibon started working in collage in the mid 80's with simple newsprint elements collaged onto black and white images. In his new works, the artists again uses the means of collage. Pettibon’s drawings encompass the spectrum of American culture from the deviances of marginal youth-culture to art, literature, sports, religion, politics, and sexuality. Pettibon’s works on paper combine the drawn image and text, both borrowed passages from literature and text written by Pettibon himself. Pettibon has stated that his interest in this technique is a result of the influence of artists such asWilliam Blake and Goya, and the style of political editorial cartoons.  He adds colour with crayons or watercolours. 

In addition to his works on paper, Pettibon has also made animations from his drawings, live action films from his own scripts, unique artist’s books, fanzines, prints, and large permanent wall drawings that often include an arrangement of his own works on paper almost creating an installation of collage.

from wiki

The Underbelly Artist By Michael Kimmelman Published: October 9, 2005 / The NewYork Times

On a sweltering day early last month, I arrived at the Museum of Modern Art to watch the artist Raymond Pettibon make a wall drawing, which the museum had commissioned him to do just outside the third-floor drawings galleries. I had been told to come by at 4. As I might have anticipated, Pettibon, having invited me to watch, was being polite to a fault. He had pretty much finished the drawing by the time I got there. It was a picture of a crashing wave. I found him surrounded by tubes of acrylic paint, plastic bags, paper bowls and sponge brushes. He was riffling through loose folders of clippings from books and magazines.

"Sorry," he said softly, avoiding eye contact and gently trying to excuse what I realized had been a quasi-deliberate misencounter. He mumbled something about how, to his surprise, the work had all just happened so fast, and would I now maybe like to see him add some touches to the picture, it would be no trouble, not an act, I could still say I had watched him paint. He squeezed a dab of cerulean blue from a half-spent tube into a bowl, picked up a fresh brush and drew a single, small stroke in the middle of the wave.

A shaggy fellow given to rumpled Oxfords or T-shirts, baggy khakis and tennis shoes, Pettibon has, at 48, after several decades of hard living, the pale, unshaved, sagging face of a handsome man nursing a perpetual hangover. Awkward and guarded, he favors indirection and halting non sequiturs; and, as a way of joking around, he'll inject in the middle of conversations bizarre, made-up stories (about having played for the Yugoslav national basketball team or for the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team), which he delivers in a straight-faced, apologetic voice sometimes so hard to interpret that it's impossible to know why or when he's pulling your leg.

He is also without pretense and, improbably, disarmingly tender. "I still have to choose some text to add to the drawing," he said to me, as if in compensation for my having missed him paint the picture. That's what he had been looking for among his papers, an apt quote, which he would paint tomorrow. "Why don't I come back then," I said.

So the next morning I again found him and his disarrayed tubes of paint and brushes, now roped off, like a zoo specimen of an artist on display for the passing mobs. "If I could shrink any more into this corner, I would," he said, slouching against the wall, head down, still absorbed in his folders. One folder contained a page from the art critic Brian O'Doherty's "Inside the White Cube," with a passage highlighted - "the relation between the picture plane and the underlying wall is very pertinent to the esthetics of surface" - and in the margins, Pettibon's own punning, run-on sentence about surfing: "When you bring shore life thoughts and theories/observations into the surf (when you attempt to shore up the line up) that is when (the moment) the nose of your longboard (shortboards, you're not ready for) breaks the surface of the wave, begins to 'pearl."'

Pettibon offered to decipher this, but in the process detoured into a conversation about surfboards and Bob Beamon, the Olympic athlete, and long jumping and the flood in New Orleans, without getting to the point, if there had been one. Or perhaps I missed it. Evidently he had intended the wave as a kind of mixed metaphor about Abstract E-pressionism and the Modern. I noticed in one folder, along with the O'Doherty page, a passport application, some yellowed clippings from Apollinaire and Henry James, pages ripped from old Hulk comics and an advertisement from the 1940's British magazine Lilliput for men's underwear, the image from which Pettibon once used in a drawing. It was the slogan that interested him now, he said: "For Men of Peace, for Men of War, for Men Who Find Them Both a Bore." On a separate page, torn from "Finnegans Wake," Pettibon had underlined some of Joyce's made-up words, like "zoravarn" and "damman," to which he added: "funeureal," "puskkalating," "perticulating."

"With my kind of work, things mingle and associate, and something comes from it - or not," he said. He was making no progress whatsoever on the wall drawing and wouldn't, I imagined, if I stuck around. We gathered up his papers, slipped into the crowd and rode the escalator to the cafe. After an hour or so, nursing a cappuccino, I left him and Lisa Overduin, the soft-spoken director of his L.A. gallery, Regen Projects, in peace. Two days had passed, and I had seen him paint a single, thin blue line.

when the art world first took notice of Pettibon's lurid, ham-fisted drawings during the late 1980's, he was a marginal, cultish scribbler and lyric poet of obsessive, black-humored art who lived in Hermosa Beach, a buttoned-up surfer's haven south of Los Angeles. Having not gone to art school, Pettibon emerged as an underground discovery. He had already published darkling, slender mimeographed and offset zines of his texts and drawings, disconnected images, laboriously done, in hand-stapled editions of 40 or 75, with titles like "Tripping Corpse," "The Language of Romantic Thought" and "Virgin Fears." Almost nobody noticed or bought them. He also illustrated album covers for his brother Greg Ginn's legendary punk band, Black Flag. (Ginn is the family name, Pettibon, Raymond's nom de plume.) He occasionally exhibited in out-of-the-way galleries and local record stores, but for years, almost nobody was interested in buying his drawings. To the extent he developed a reputation, it was as Greg's younger brother, a hanger-on.

But in the unlikely way that the art world sometimes works, Pettibon has now become one of the exalted fixtures on the international art scene, a high-tone collector's darling and senior superstar. Along with his wall drawing at the Museum of Modern Art, he has just completed an installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego and, having won the Whitney Museum of American Art's 2004 Bucksbaum Award, he has been given a Whitney show, which opened this week and mixes drawings with a new animated video.

Meanwhile a new generation of artists steeped in rock, 60's and 70's revivalism, cartooning and surrealism has come to regard him as a hero and an inspiration, a model insider-outsider. Paul Schimmel, chief curator at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and a longtime friend of Pettibon's, said that he finds that "young artists admire him not necessarily for who he is but for how they imagine him still to be. To them, he still represents fringe culture, which means 'Ulysses' and underground comics."

Among other signs of his prestige, his influence is discernible in the current vogue for shambling, winking sorts of drawing, in the mixing of text with image, in the exaltation of comix and the whole D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself) subculture of zines and Web sites. For his part, Pettibon, while perfectly capable of tending his career, does pretty much what he has always been doing, still taking public buses to get around Los Angeles, still spending much of his time at home with his mother in Hermosa Beach, still making art out of not much more than a piece of paper, a pen and a Masonite board to lean on.

Three years ago at Documenta, the quintennial mega-survey of contemporary art in Kassel, Germany, which was devoted that time around to righteous and civic-minded art, Pettibon's loopy, messy drawings of steaming trains, gangsters, Bible thumpers, California surfer dudes and vintage baseball players in the slanting light of the late afternoon - accompanied, as usual, by incantatory texts culled from Mickey Spillane or Walter Pater or St. Augustine or wherever - came as a tonic and a rebuke. The antic, bad-boy eccentricity was the opposite of pedantry. People didn't smile much at that Documenta ,but they smiled leaving the room where Pettibon had tacked his drawings, dozens of them, as he likes to do, making a collage of the wall.

His repertory of atomic explosions, hippies, vixens, cowboys, dismembered bodies, old cars and liquor bottles describes a morning-after portrait of America in extremis. The affect is world-weary but slyly comic. The pervasive nastiness and unfettered id belong to the worlds of Joan Crawford and low-budget horror films: to camp as much as to punk. Surfers, Gumby and Vavoom, the wide-mouthed character from the old animated series "Felix the Cat," are Pettibon's occasional surrogate self-portraits. Old Vargas pinups and beefcake nudes traced from magazine advertisements or superhero comics give to some of the pictures an ambiguous, once-upon-a-time, bleak eroticism.

And the disconnections between text and image in Pettibon's art provoke a laughter that's not quite straight but uncomfortable or melancholic. His drawings are often like disparate film stills from movies whose plots are no longer known, as in the one of a man with a stocking pulled over his head, talking into a telephone. "Hi, Paula?" he says. "It's Lee. I have a new number. Do you want it?"

Pettibon has told me that when he started to draw his zines, he was interested in Edward Hopper and Reginald Marsh and the whole Ash Can School of American art, along with film noir. He admires Thomas Nast's illustrations and Herblock's cartoons and Philip Guston's late paintings. The links in his work to Blake, Goya and Otto Dix are often mentioned, as are ones to R. Crumb, but Pettibon claims that Crumb actually was never much on his mind. Crumb's comics, more deftly drawn, are, as narratives blunt instruments by comparison. Pettibon's allusions are more obscure without being opaque, skirting specific meanings to linger at the mercurial edge of clear thought where poetry tends to operate. The work can also break your heart, sneakily. A Boy Scout, as if copied from a fading snapshot, is drawn beside the phrase "that they might become clear and sunlit, too." Like so much of Pettibon's work, it implies the memory of a childhood that was not exactly ordinary.

One late August morning I visited Pettibon at the Ginn house in Hermosa Beach, a tumble-down beige stucco split-level that his father, Regis Ginn, designed himself, on a nondescript street of middle-class bungalows. Along with his mother (his father died earlier this year), one of Pettibon's brothers, Adrian, lives there, as does a man Pettibon calls Fleck (he doesn't seem to recall Fleck's last name), who for some years has slept in a shingled, makeshift lean-to he erected in the gap between the back of the garage and a wire fence, no wider than a phone booth and not much deeper.

The front door was ajar when I arrived, and walking in, I instantly wondered whether I had entered the back way: a darkened room was crammed with old furniture, teetering boxes and electrical appliances. A dog barked furiously from the kitchen, behind a barrier at the opposite end of the room, where I made out the silhouette of a small, gray-haired woman in a frock. It was Pettibon's mother. High-stepping my way through the piles on the floor, I introduced myself over the din. The kitchen was cluttered with more boxes and days-old dishes. It opened onto a small, sunny backyard with a big bougainvillea bush, where I spotted a new basketball hoop, the plastic wrapping still half on, piles of trash, an unplugged freezer, two bicycles and a surfboard. Pettibon appeared in a hallway, glancing away, as usual, when I said hello and stuck out my hand. He shook it limply.

His father had designed the house with few windows, his mother said, as if answering a question I hadn't asked.

"Maybe he wanted more wall space for bookshelves," I ventured.

"That must be it," Pettibon responded, trying to be helpful.

"It's more complicated than that," his mother said, shaking her head. She looked oddly displeased. To break the ice, I asked if Pettibon might show me around.

The house was a rabbit warren and rattrap befitting the Collyer brothers. Lately Pettibon has been tending, he says, to the Sisyphean task of culling the thousands upon thousands of dogeared paperbacks, back issues of Show and Detective Story Monthly, old Playboy magazines, picture frames, dusty garbage bags containing who knows what, boxes of moldering sporting goods, paintings of pinups and other remains of his father's life. The nostalgic quality in much of Pettibon's art, which cribs from the 1940's, 50's and 60's, I realize, has its sources in these magazines and books, in his father's era, as opposed to his own.

Pettibon showed me the upstairs and his own lofted study, crammed with unfinished paintings, shoeboxes of zines, trampled drawings, stereo and video equipment and back issues of Kennedy-era American Heritage and Crimes and Punishment. He tripped over a vacuum cleaner in the middle of the room, knocking a plastic container of coins from a table onto the floor, the coins scattering among the socks and empty Coke cans. On the roof, paintings by Pettibon's father (eerie, thrift-store Francis Picabia-style portraits and pinups) were laid out as if to dry in the sun.

"What's there?" I asked Pettibon, pointing, a bit warily by now, to a closed door.

"My brother's room," he said, and before I could tell him not to bother, he knocked. Adrian, disheveled and smiling in a Hawaiian shirt and rumpled trousers, appeared after a moment or two. Seated on the bed behind him, looking blankly at me, was a woman in a tight blouse who could have come straight out of a Russ Meyer movie.

"Vodka?" Adrian asked me, in lieu of the usual greetings. It was 11 o'clock in the morning. No thanks, I said.

"Vodka?" Ray repeated to Adrian, accepting the offer and disappearing behind the door. Doubting there was room for the four of us in the room, I turned and noticed Pettibon's mother, now at the opposite end of the hall, smiling. She gestured for me to join her in her bedroom, next to Adrian's, and showed me one of her favorite drawings by Pettibon, of a speeding train, with the accompanying text: "I have, I confess, truly to jerk myself with violence from memories and images, stages and phases and branching arms, that catch and hold me as I pass them."

She had a paperback at hand, "The Cold Warrior," which her husband, Regis, self-published, a thriller, with Regis's drawings as illustrations and, below a mustachioed self-portrait on the inside back cover, a brief autobiography: "Patriarch, erotica archivist and sly frottage enthusiast, end product of seven American colleges and distinguished graduate of the U.S. Air Force Weight and Balance School, the arriviste posed bashful behind the postiche basher is a nonpracticing Freeman of the City of Cambridge who summered and falled in Britain (1944) and now lives in the extreme northeast section of Hermosa Beach, 90254."

Pettibon's nom de plume comes from his father, who gave nicknames to his children - Kierkegaard, Tiger - calling Raymond petit bon, good little one. A navigator with the Army Air Force during World War II, he then knocked around teaching English at various colleges and junior colleges on the outskirts of L.A.

"My father painted and wrote," Pettibon said. "I didn't read comics much, but he had these 50's horror comics, which he'd bring out once a year, as a curiosity. I started to do some political cartooning in college. I wanted to be a writer. I was taking lots of literature classes, and on the bus back and forth to U.C.L.A., I'd read and do my own things at home. We were all kind of in our own world at home. My father was a Republican, like most people in Hermosa Beach, but he wasn't uptight. His politics weren't hippie, but his lifestyle sort of was."

For a long time, Pettibon was especially close to his older brother, Greg: "We weren't co-conspirators or anything. But there was a certain shared attitude. Greg had the idea that he could do things for himself. He was a genius." Black Flag, the hard-core punk band that gave the lie to the cliché of Southern Californians as laid-back surfer dudes, epitomized punk's Dadaist model of anticorporate entrepreneurship. Ginn started a record label, SST, at first to produce Black Flag's albums, which mainstream companies wouldn't touch (wherever the band played there were riots); then SST went on to release albums by the Minutemen, the Meat Puppets, Sonic Youth and Husker Du. It also published Pettibon's early zines. Pettibon said he hasn't seen Greg in years. Talking to people around Pettibon, I get the sense that Ginn, who has largely dropped out of public sight, might have resented Pettibon's success, which gradually rivaled and maybe even supplanted his own.

If he was not quite Lana Turner at the soda fountain when he was discovered, Pettibon was lifted from obscurity not by fans of Black Flag or Sonic Youth or by the comix world, in which he says he has always remained a nobody, but by artists. Over breakfast at the Mondrian Hotel one recent morning, Schimmel, the curator, recalled having "heard about Ray in the late 80's from Irv Tepper, a conceptual artist and ceramicist from San Francisco. Irv had seen Ray's work in some out-of-the-way place, and he told me I had to go, that this was the real thing and not the usual art stuff. So I met Ray. His shirt was not one button askew but three buttons, he was completely disheveled, and I thought this might be just a little too far from the art world so I didn't see much of him for a few years until the early 90's when I was organizing the 'Helter Skelter' show, a survey of L.A. art, for which Ray seemed perfect.

"His work had changed a lot in the meantime, from pamphlets and album covers to the drawings we know him for," Schimmel went on to say. "I brought a few collectors over to see him. He was totally broke. They bought 10 or 20 drawings for $5,000 total, which was big money to him at the time. Now Ray's collectors have become like Paul Klee's - obsessively specializing in particular bodies or subbodies of work."

Schimmel credited artists, many of them already working with text and images, like Mike Kelley, Jim Shaw, Paul McCarthy and Ed Ruscha, for "embracing Ray because they saw he occupied a beautiful quasi place - not of the L.A. art world but in tune with it - and because he was also more truly L.A. than almost anyone, I mean in terms of beach culture, lower middle class white culture. Most artists here come from elsewhere. Ray is the real McCoy."

When I visited Mike Kelley, who has become dean and sage of the L.A. art scene, he remembered coming across Pettibon's work during the mid-80's and including him in a few shows he was organizing. He saw the drawings as raw but brilliant, the product of neither art school nor punk. "Raymond was considered punk in the beginning, but he was too smart for punk," Kelley said. "The punk audience liked his art because it was illustrational and there were jokes about hippie culture and film noir. But what I liked about it was that it had this very knowing, winking position vis-à-vis hippie and punk culture. It struck me as Magrittean while pretending to be Victor Hugo." Kelley laughed.

"Back then, no art in L.A. was considered significant by collectors and institutions, so artists could be supportive of each other because there weren't camps," he continued. "Some people liked Raymond because they considered him a guy who didn't kiss the butt of the art world. Others thought he represented punk, or blue-collar Conceptualism or D.I.Y. What interested me about him was how he constructed things - like Lautréamont, who's my favorite writer - with all these different sources juggled and combined into something particular. Raymond had that definite auteur look, which was faux-romantic, faux-Gothic, very Tennessee Williams, very foppishly funny."

Pettibon and I were shooting hoops in his backyard one afternoon with half-inflated basketballs, our stray shots careering off broken picture frames, bicycles and the bougainvillea. Fleck joined us. He had recently found a red leather jacket in the trash, which he dyed with black shoe polish and had now shed to launch three-pointers. Did Raymond have any black paint? he asked. A discussion of spray-painting leather ensued. I noticed a painting of a beach, a washy scene hanging on the fence. It turned out to be Fleck's. "Not bad," I said. Fleck was pleased.

Meanwhile, the family dog was busy rooting around the garage, feverishly burrowing into the piles of roller skates, baseball bats, magazines and books ("The Aeneid," "Tantric Sex"). Adrian and Marlene, the girlfriend whom I had earlier spied on Adrian's bed, appeared and joined the shoot-around. Fleck was thrilled to come across a dead rat in the yard, which, he said, the dog or cat must have finally caught. I drifted into the garage, where crusty old fluorescent ceiling lights dangled from wires. Pettibon told me that his father, who used to drive 20 miles out of his way to find a gas station charging 25 cents, as opposed to 27 cents a gallon, built additions to the old family house with cheap, termite-ridden wood that leaked so badly that as a boy Pettibon slept under plastic tarpaulins heaving with rainwater.

We took a drive. Around downtown Hermosa Beach, he pointed out the pretty Christian Science church on a hill where his mother, over his father's objections (Regis was Roman Catholic), took the children for services (Pettibon's parents almost broke up over this, he said). He pointed out where SST used to have its offices, and the high school where he played sandlot baseball (he was a so-so pitcher), which saved him from being the stereotypical class nerd. Down the coast, we stopped at Malaga Cove, where Pettibon bicycled to go skin diving. It was a calm, gray morning, and standing on the cliff, at the top of the dirt path beside the Pacific Coast Highway that descended to the rocky shore, we saw no surfers, but a flock of sea gulls circled the weedy shallows.

We ended up at Acres of Books, a used-book store in downtown Long Beach, where Pettibon used to go with his dad, and scavenged the shelves of art and literary criticism, after which we drove to Pettibon's own apartment, also in Long Beach, a nondescript second-story flat in the middle of nowhere. Pettibon dumped his bag of new acquisitions (Santayana, Ruskin, Benjamin DeMott, some back issues of American Heritage) onto the pile of drawings, magazines, tapes, 1970's football cards, batteries, soda-can tabs, newspaper clippings and other loose papers that, like landfill, already blanketed the living room floor.

He put on a scratchy CD he made recently, a live, homegrown punk record he produced with a band of friends. Fishing through the stacks of papers on the floor, he uncovered a video of one of his films, from 1989, "The Whole World Is Watching: Weatherman '69." In the film, faux radicals sit around debating whether Chinese Communists prematurely ejaculate and whether the former Mets pitcher Jerry Koosman was a fellow traveler. Like his music, Pettibon's films are crude, tongue-in-cheek and hard to sit through for their sheer boredom - Warholian movies whose themes are caustic riffs on onetime tabloid favorites, political extremism and hippie culture. Like Ed Wood's cult movies, they look as if they're made on a budget of $75, which is part of their coy charm.

Over the years, as Pettibon's art has become more complex, the drawing more adept and the language denser, he has nevertheless stuck to familiar themes. That crashing wave at the Museum of Modern Art is not the first wall drawing of a crashing wave. But if he often repeats himself now, you could say he has an eye for monotony and abundance, an American trait.

Pettibon projected an image of Wonder Woman on a wall beside his desk to show how he traces certain pictures then changes them. "The projector has a tendency to make the work look stiff and poorly drawn," he said, "and to rely on it just makes no sense, so I try not to." Several unfinished drawings, based on this Wonder Woman image, were on the floor; they turn her into a baseball player with a glove, twisted like a corkscrew, a Mannerist and androgynous riff, the comic-book source no longer decipherable.

"I want to make images that have the disparities of Surrealism," Pettibon added. "I've heard people say my work is arbitrary, random, spliced together. But I think that's a pretty simplistic comprehension level. If anything, my work is fairly easily understood compared to most poetry. I try to be in the communication business."

At that point, Pettibon retrieved from a kitchen cabinet jumbled stacks of what he said were his earliest drawings. They were children's drawings. "Actually, they're by my nephew," he said. Pettibon is proud of his nephew. Schimmel has said that Pettibon is one of those adults who genuinely listen to children. Diffident about his own drawings, he regards his nephew's as ingenious. He interspersed some of them in a 1986 zine, "Bottomless Pond." Above a drawing by his nephew of an atomic explosion is scrawled: "When it comes I'll be playing!" His nephew's picture of a junkie shooting up is accompanied by the text: "Don't do it for me or I'll never learn how to do it." And between those two pages, Pettibon inserted his own image of a man lifting a young boy. "It may not seem like fun for you now," he wrote, "but when you're a big boy you'll be doing the same things I do."

Picking through a lunch of sushi and beer in a sports bar near the beach in Hermosa later, Pettibon talked uneasily about his father. "When you have your whole life invested in someone . . . ," he said, letting the sentence trail off, like so many sentences. After some hesitation, he revealed that his father would be silent whenever a show of his got a good review but would clip out and leave in some conspicuous place all the good reviews of artists whom he considered to be Pettibon's rivals.

Pettibon spent the better part of the next two days trying to explain away that anecdote. In his apartment, while thumbing through the phone book, looking for the nearest In-N-Out, where we could get a burger on our way to an Angels game in Anaheim, he said that his father "wasn't as eccentric or odd as that. . .I mean, compared. . .I mean it's always pretty much been this way. . .the perfect nuclear family. . .considering the dysfunctional, abusive situation, this was pretty minor.. . .I mean he was actually a very, uh. . .an extremely generous person in a way that.. . ." His own art, he then ventured, often speaks in his father's voice - flippant, knowing, a bit rough. The voice, it so happens, of the sort of backslapping, tipsy bully who calls people by ridiculous nicknames.

Later Paul Schimmel told me he remembered Pettibon's father hanging around while Raymond was installing his one-man show at MoCA in the late 90's. His father kept pestering Pettibon. He was taken aback by his son's success, Schimmel said.

Schimmel then recalled when his own son Max, as an 11-year-old, gave Pettibon a sculpture he had made out of the metal wrapper on the top of a wine bottle. Pettibon slipped it into his shirt pocket, and Schimmel assumed it would be crushed and forgotten. Months later he got a call from Pettibon's L.A. dealer, Shaun Regen. She wanted him to bring Max to Pettibon's next show. There, Max found, Pettibon had drawn a large, painstaking copy of the sculpture, which Max had titled "Winer," with an accompanying text that Schimmel remembers said something like: "I think I've never seen anything more beautiful than this. It has the freshness of g'day mate." Schimmel swallowed.

"Such heart."

Michael Kimmelman is the chief art critic for The New York Times. His latest book is "The Accidental Masterpiece."

Raymond Pettibon Submitted by Crasierfrane on Fri, 01/10/2010 


How did you get into drawing professionally?

I didn't study art or go to art school. I learned pretty much on my own and I was pretty much in the dark. I didn't have friends showing me what to do or someone to understudy at all. So it was trial and error basically. I have nothing against going to art school whatsoever. My lack of that is probably still evident, but mine is a kind of style or technique that doesn't need to play off a great skill or virtuosity. I try to make do with whatever strengths I may have, which isn't always drawing or painting. It's a style that derives from comic books, cartoons, or drawing from wherever you want to start or end. I don't want to be downplaying drawing, because I really can't get by without it, but my school was economics and my interest was literature more than visual arts, and that's still the case.


When did you begin to consider yourself an artist?

From the start, going back to 78 or 77, I considered it art as much as anything else. The distinctions between museums, galleries, books, fanzines, high, low, comics, cartoons, commercial art, fine art are not there for any useful purposes, especially when they're enforced for marking one's turf or keeping people out. Entry form above, below, the sides, whatever. My art found its own place. It wasn't something I was pushing for one way or another, because I'm not a great promoter or self-publicist. Beyond making art I've always just kinda put my hands up and let things fall where they are. Let the marketplace, the viewers, or the institutions of art decide.


Do you feel like when you started combining text and drawings you were doing something quite unique?

It wasn't in the character of the times as far as making art goes, but also no. It's not something that I can take credit for much at all because there were precedents: for me, Goya, or Blake, and editorial political cartoons. When I first started, art was not welcoming to the literary at all in general, but that's a sweeping statement that I'm making knowing well that there are exceptions, not just the people I mentioned.


Do you mostly just work on pieces for exhibitions, or do you ever draw for the sake of drawing?

Well there isn't a separation between the two. Except for if there's a show that is approaching. Then I'll have to finish works where otherwise I just kinda go onto something else. Finishing the work is not my favourite part of it. Not that I dislike drawing, but when you already have something thought out and it's just a matter of finishing it, it's not my favourite part. Other than that, I just draw anything and whatever I have finished will be for the show, unless there's some kind of concept involved in it.


Do you still produce drawings as frequently as you used to?

Lately I get interrupted a lot with different things. I'm trying to catch up. Also they take a lot longer than they used to because they're fairly complicated. Probably too much so. For a number of reasons. It's kind of a shame when drawings and paintings are laboured incessantly. Some of the collages I do especially are just too much. Maybe it's something I should remedy.


Where's your favourite place that your art has taken you to?

LA is not bad. There's a lot of things that aren't ideal about it. Every place has its advantages and disadvantages. I don't know if there's a perfect place. One thing about LA, and New York, and the US in general is it just becomes so much of a police state. It kinda creeps up upon people and they don't recognise it, but if you go other places it becomes more obvious in comparison. I just like to be able to work first of all. Beyond that, I dunno. There's a lot of places I haven't been.


When you exhibit how often do you end up travelling to the place?

It depends on if it's a solo show or a group show. It's fine to go places, but it's not usually called for or expected. My work travels especially well. Nowadays some art you can send anywhere. There are, I imagine, cost considerations, but it's not so much a problem with me. I'd just as well have my art work unframed and do things at the last minute because my priorities aren't always to finish.


Do you feel like there's different attitudes towards your work internationally?

I haven't noticed that to any degree where I could say that there's a major difference. The art world is very international and globalised. Wherever you have the show that's how it's set up. I'm sure there's exceptions, but I tend to go to some of the same places and not much else, like New York, London, or Berlin. It's more of a gallery situation. It's not exactly to say that those are the hot-spots, like in radio where your single takes off some place and you wanna get there and hit it and then it's a local hit and it may spread from there or whatever. Those places are very concentrated in the art world as hubs or centres. If you had a show in most larger cities, Glasgow for instance, you might see a lot of the same people that you would in London, or Germany, or France. It's not much of a local thing; it's much the same. Even with artists to a large extent: they tend to be a socialised into the art world by means of the same schools or equivalents. Teaching can be pretty much equivalent in one place or another. One's local knowledge or culture or habitat that one grew up with, if anything, isn't that important. This isn't meaning to be negative or cynical about it or exposing it, but everywhere where you're likely to have a museum that shows art that is international people are likely to be pretty much the same.


Do the images you've made that have become iconic, like Black Flag covers, or the Sonic Youth cover, feel exceptional to you personally?

I think it had a lot to do, definitely much more to do, with the bands than the cover art, because Black Flag and Sonic Youth were/are great bands. A lot of people either know me from that stuff exclusively, or that was where they saw my art first. I still do covers if I'm asked and can get around to it at all, but they're likely to be for more obscure garage bands like the kid next door or something. I appreciate it. It's humbling for sure, but those drawings weren't done for record covers. There's no reason why that should be the form to put it in. Ordinarily you'd have an art director and you'd try to configure whatever you're doing to their expectations or their ideas. Back then you didn't have, like major labels do, an art department: freelance, or commercial, or salaried. Usually anyone around could be good enough for you. Someone from school or whoever. It's just as likely that somebody in the band could do them. That's the context of how those were done. I was making art and I was there. It's like division of labour. I can't play guitar or drums or anything. Back then, especially with the art, you'd just put something together. That's not a bad way to do things either.


Would it be right to say you don't draw things for a specific purpose? Like you just draw all day and then somebody asks you if they can have something and you give them something?


Well in those cases I was likely to have a number of drawings that they could choose from. It's definitely not the case that I ever had the power to decide what was going to go on any of the records, or flyers probably for that matter. I don't have anything against being commissioned or commercial art as some kind of moral issue or criminal act. But it's something that doesn't work with me. It's something that I don't really have any control over. If I was to dig ditches or do office work or anything, I could follow orders no problem, but with my art, when people get between what I'm doing and what I should be doing it's just contrary to the reason I do it in the first place. The few times it's been the case that I've been cajoled or coerced into doing someone else's idea, I don't think anyone has been happy with the result. There's plenty of illustrators or commercial artists you could go to to do that sort of thing. It's not because I see myself as above it or like it's beneath my station. It's more like what happens is I try to meet the expectations of the boss, the patron, just out of good manners, and I try too hard and it just freezes up into something that's too stiff and awkward. Just very forced, because it is forced in that circumstances. When I make art I don't think of who it's being pitched for or the audience at all. It's a psychological state of mind. It's not something I have any conscious power over. Really it shouldn't be much of an issue anyway, and it usually isn't because I'm rarely in that situation. There's no reason why I should be. 


http://www.raypettibon.com/

* art21 : http://www.pbs.org/art21/artists/pettibon/#



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