In the summer, the Bonnefantenmuseum is presenting the extensive retrospective A Pen of All Work by the American artist Raymond Pettibon. The exhibition includes over 600 works dating from the sixties up to the present. Pettibon’s whole oeuvre is characterised by the inextricable link between text and image. A Pen of All Work opened on 7 February in the New Museum in New York and will travel on to the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht, where the exhibition will be held from 2 June to 29 October 2017.
It is the first time in fifteen years that Pettibon is giving a solo exhibition in the Netherlands.
In presenting these exhibitions, the Bonnefantenmuseum is taking a new step in a direction that stands out in the Dutch museum landscape for the distinctive emphasis and priorities in its programming, with a clear focus on the ‘secret canon’. A Pen of All Work fits this direction perfectly, as Pettibon’s work discusses the borders between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ in the context of art history, and the work is seldom exhibited by Dutch art institutions.
Pettibon (1957, Tucson, US) is undoubtedly one of the central figures in American contemporary art. His extensive oeuvre is difficult to pigeon-hole, and it forms a separate artistic category in itself, as it were. Since the late seventies, the American artist has created over 20,000 works, ranging from drawings, artist’s books and album cover designs to large-scale installations. In the eighties, he held cult hero status in the punk rock circuit in L.A. His designs were used for the LPs and flyers of such legendary bands as Sonic Youth and Black Flag. Pettibon developed a distinctively figurative style of slightly awkward black-and-white drawings inspired by cartoons and caricatures, combined with humorous and often morbid texts. The artist’s world is populated by a variety of characters from the American history of last century, such as sect leader Charles Manson, animation figure Gumby, Superman and several former presidents. In his interplay of text and image, and his great diversity of themes, Pettibon oscillates between historical reflection, poetic humour and sharp criticism. A Pen of All Work shows his exceptional and influential oeuvre, giving emphasis to the literary and intellectual qualities of his work.
Top Image: VAVOOM 17 Raymond Pettibon, No Title (This feeling is), 2011. Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles