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Get to know the Homo Americanus: Raymond Pettibon
19 November, 2016 - 20 November, 2016
The exhibition Raymond Pettibon. Homo Americanus at the Museum der Moderne Salzburg presents the sharp reflection of the myth of American culture in the exceptional work of a great graphic artist. The show includes more than five hundred works illustrating Pettibon’s incisive take on the American Dream-from Woodstock to the so-called War on Terror.
Over the past decades, Pettibon has created a sprawling and idiosyncratic oeuvre that has made him one of the most influential artists of his time. His sharp critique of contemporary culture and society draws on the literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as well as popular culture. In his drawings, text and image blend into each other to create a harsh yet poetic language.
“For over four decades, Pettibon has dissected stereotypes of the American mainstream as well as its subculture. Homo Americanus is Pettibon’s emblematic depiction of the myth of America and a reality dominated, in his vision, by phony morality and the decline of civilization,” says Sabine Breitwieser, director of the Museum der Moderne Salzburg.
The exhibition presents over five hundred drawings, album covers, flyers, fanzines, and films. “The aim of this project is to show this extensive oeuvre in a structured manner,” explains guest curator Ulrich Loock. “The exhibition starts with Pettibon’s contact with the anarchic punk revolution of the 1980s and extends to his latest works, which demonstrate his implacable political commitment.”
Pettibon’s work is rooted in comic strips, a standardized mass medium in which production is usually collaborative. He has responded to the technological progress in production and distribution by devising a distinctive personal style. His drawings and their pointed messages initially attracted notice in the music scene, as many of his works were used for flyers and album covers for punk-rock bands like Black Flag and Minutemen. Pettibon photocopied and stapled his drawings together to make simple magazines. Since the mid-1980s, his works have been regarded as an art form in their own right. Around 2000, Pettibon’s style became raw and expressive. His creativity reached a new high in the large-scale color drawings in which he expressed his disillusionment and rage over the policies of George W. Bush and the American war in Iraq.
Homo Americanus focus on two phases in Pettibon’s work that coincide with critical periods in recent American history: the rise of the country to the status of sole superpower in the 1980s and the decline of its supremacy in the first decades of the twenty-first century. The exhibition also examines different themes that Pettibon has addressed repeatedly since the mid-1980s, including his alter egos Vavoom and Gumby, surfers, baseball, trains, erections, and the Bible. They are fragments of an all-embracing American myth subversively reconstructed by the artist.
Guest Curator: Ulrich Loock, Berlin
Curator: Tina Teufel, Museum der Moderne Salzburg
Top Image: No Title (My first ride . . .), 1983 Pen and ink on paper 9 x 12 in. (22.9 x 30.5 cm) Deichtorhallen Hamburg / Sammlung Falckenberg