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[St.] Raymond Pettibon[e] : 1978 - 1986

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specific object / david platzker


[St.] Raymond Pettibon[e] : 1978 - 1986

June 16 - October 3, 2008

Specific Object / David Platzker is pleased to announce the opening of [St.] Raymond Pettibon[e] : 1978 - 1986. The exhibition will be on view at Specific Object from June 16 though October 3, 2008.

Between the years 1978 and 1986 Raymond Pettibon [a.k.a. Raymond Pettibone; St. Pettibone; Chuck Higby; Ray Dylan; Raymond Ginn] produced an aggressive trove of graphic works for the seminal Southern California punk band Black Flag as well as for Red Cross, The Minutemen, Nig Heist, and others. Published predominately by SST Records -- which was founded by Pettibon's brother and Black Flag guitarist, Greg Ginn -- the exhibition features over two hundred gig flyers, artists' books, album covers, posters, T-shirts, stickers, skateboard decks, and the first five editioned prints by Pettibon.

"The flyers were one of the best things about working with SST," recalls the lanky Pettibon at his Redondo Beach studio. "It's more of a general audience when it goes on a telephone pole. It's not something that you can buy in a store or see on TV. You see it at a glance and you can't switch it off."

And make no mistake - some of Pettibon's pen-and-ink drawings are strong enough to make you reach for the off button: Themes include castration, dismemberment, suicide, murder. Working in a style reminiscent of religious tract handouts, Pettibon shows one-shot images of disturbed pockets of humanity that are at times humorous, violent and macabre: A panel with a pair of men fighting with knives is headed with the caption "Your girlfriend called me chicken." A skeleton standing on a stage tells an audience, "Life is a joke" with a caption underneath that says, "This is the punch line."

"(My drawings) are violent," Pettibon, 24, admits. "And that's dictated by the medium, in that I just use one frame. You can't tell a whole story with all kinds of exposition. It's like taking one frame out of a movie or one crucial scene out of a book at a critical point. You can't really be subtle."

-- from "Black Flag Cover is Pure Pettibon," by Jeff Spurrier, Los Angeles Times, July 1, 1984

Many of the images for the gig flyers were drawn from the pages of the 47 artists' books by Pettibon that were published by SST. In addition to flyers for Black Flag's gigs, Pettibon's artwork graces flyers for bands such as Angst, Circle Jerks, Dead Kennedys, Descendents, D.O.A., Fear, Flipper, Germs, Go-Go's, Hüsker Dü, Meat Puppets, Minutemen, Ramones, Redd Kross, Saccharine Trust, Stains, Subhumans, Throbbing Gristle, TSOL, Wasted Youth, Youth Gone Mad and others. Pettibon is also credited with both conceiving the band's name -- a riff on the British heavy metal band Black Sabbath and the legendary Black Flag insecticide -- as well as designing Black Flag's iconic four black bar "flag" logo. Post 1986 Pettibon was commissioned to produce covers for the Sonic Youth, Foo Fighters and various bands that have included Pettibon himself as a musician such as Blank, Super Session, and Sür Drone.

Beginning with Raymond Pettibon's first artists' book Captive Chains, published in 1978, the exhibition contains a myriad body of explicit, graphic, sexual and violent material not suitable for children or those faint of mind. The show concludes with the announcement card for Pettibon's first New York City one-man exhibition held at the Semaphone Gallery in March 1986, on which the text reads: "I am the wrench in people's lives, really fixing them up."

In addition to the artworks, the exhibition documents the eight year period with newspaper clippings; additional ephemera; books that provide context by rock historian Joe Carducci [Rock and the Pop Narcotic : Testament for the Electronic Church], and Black Flag's vocalist, Henry Rollins [Get in the Van : On the Road with Black Flag]; as well as books about Raymond Pettibon himself.

Pettibon's cult-like following began soon after the appearance of his earliest album covers, artists' books, and flyers. Specific Object's exhibition reflects this history and proves Jeff Spurrier's and Pettibon's predictions from twenty-four years ago:

... There are already a number of "serious" Pettibon collectors, and it's inevitable that when punk is history, the art of Raymond Pettibon will be considered an essential chapter.

"It'll happen like it did in the '60s with the psychedelic posters," he predicts. "Once these kids start growing up and making money it'll be a way of recapturing their past. But at that point the art becomes dead. It's just artifacts."

-- from "Black Flag Cover is Pure Pettibon," by Jeff Spurrier, Los Angeles Times, July 1, 1984

A PDF of the complete exhibition checklist is available at:

Please note that the checklist is 50 pages, 7.8 MB, and may take a few minutes to load.

Read Roberta Smith's New York Times review of the exhibition by clicking here.

Read Raphael Rubinstein's Art in America cover story about the exhibition by clicking here.

Specific Object's hours are Monday - Friday 11 AM to 5 PM, or by appointment.

Specific Object is located at 601 West 26th Street / Floor 2M / Room M285, New York, New York 10001.

Telephone (212) 242-6253.

Specific Object's website is

For additional information regarding the exhibition or Specific Object please email David Platzker at