It coincides with the largest show of the artist's work to date at the New Museum in New York (on view from February 8 through April 9, 2017)—his first major museum exhibition in the city—which will travel to the Bonnefantenmuseum Maastricht, The Netherlands and the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow. The artist's tenth solo show at David Zwirner, TH' EXPLOSIYV SHOYRT T follows his collaborative presentations with Marcel Dzama at the gallery in both London and New York last year.
Pettibon's work embraces a wide spectrum of American high and low culture, from the deviations of marginal youth to art history, sports, religion, politics, sexuality, and literature. Taking their point of departure in the Southern California punk-rock scene of the late 1970s and 1980s and the do-it-yourself aesthetic of album covers, comics, concert flyers, and fanzines that characterized the movement, his drawings have come to occupy their own genre of potent and dynamic artistic commentary.
The exhibition includes drawings and collages—a relatively new introduction within the artist's oeuvre—in Pettibon's characteristic bold style. The title (here rewritten using the artist's personalized spelling) refers to a 1963 book by legendary American football coach Homer Rice, which details his variation on the so-called T-formation, the precursor to most modern offensive formations in the sport. The potent and aggressive associations of the phrase are echoed throughout the works on view, which shrewdly address facets of contemporary American life.
In keeping with Pettibon's practice, most of the works pair image and text, with each informing the other in a circular fashion. Ranging from a few words to a number of paragraphs, the often rhythmic prose reflects the artist’s longstanding interest in poetry and philosophy. Quoting freely from sources such as John Ruskin, Walt Whitman, Jacques Derrida, the Bible, and social media, and often adding self-coined expressions, the handwritten words complement Pettibon's bold imagery in adding humor and unexpected layers to the subject matter. Vintage cartoons by artists such as Charles Addams and Peter Arno are a new influence behind some of the works included in the exhibition, presenting an additional narrative component to his motifs.
On the occasion of the exhibition, David Zwirner Books is pleased to announce the second printing of Raymond Pettibon: Homo Americanus. Published last year for the artist's major European traveling retrospective organized by the Deichtorhallen Hamburg – Sammlung Falkenberg, the first edition has now sold out.