Raymond Pettibon “To Wit”

David Zwirner 19th Street

poster for Raymond Pettibon “To Wit”

This event has ended.

Raymond Pettibon’s work embraces a wide spectrum of American “high” and “low” culture, from the deviations of marginal youth to art history, literature, sports, religion, politics, and sexuality. Taking their points of departure in the Southern California punk-rock culture 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.

To Wit presents new drawings and collages unified by their bold, vivid lines and striking compositions. Fragments from American society have been distilled into key images, which often incorporate texts of varying length, from one word to several paragraphs. The selection of texts, spanning a broad array of influences from popular media to Marcel Proust, William Faulkner, Henry James, Gustave Flaubert, and the Bible, relate both rhythmically and narratively to the visual content of his drawings, although their relationship may not always be immediately apparent.

Defined as “namely” or “that is to say,” to wit originally meant “to know” (from the Middle English, “to witen”). Today “to wit” imparts a tone of formality and appears in legal documents and technical writing, though it has recently become prevalent in news broadcasting and blog writing. As the exhibition’s title, “to wit” introduces the works without an antecedent, as an interrupted thought followed by something spontaneous: to wit, this body of work. The words also convey Pettibon’s longstanding interest in the way language moves through its many registers: formal and highfalutin, literary, lyrical, and spoken. “To wit” is at once Shakespearean, legal, and tweetable. It is also a dedication to Wit, the broad principle of learning and humor that pervades this work.



from September 12, 2013 to October 26, 2013

Opening Reception on 2013-09-12 from 18:00 to 20:00

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