Raymond Pettibon: To Wit

Text by Lucas Zwirner. Interview with the artist by Kim Gordon. Photographs by Andreas Laszlo Konrath

In the summer of 2013, Raymond Pettibon took over one of David Zwirner’s gallery spaces in New York, transforming the high-ceilinged, garage-like white cube into his studio in order to prepare a show of drawings and collages within—and sometimes directly on—its walls. Titled To Wit, evoking the Middle English expression that has come to express a certain formality today and is defined as “namely,” or “that is to say,” the exhibition gave new meaning to the term “site specific,” featuring vibrant, gestural works Pettibon created in conversation with his surroundings that operated as a sort of archive, both product and record of his relationship to that space and time. Unified by their bold, vivid lines and unconventional framing, they feature allusions to a wide spectrum of American “high” and “low” culture, from violence, humor, and sex to literature, youth, art history, and sports—embodying the artist’s signature mix of social and political commentary, diary entry, and automatic drawing. 

This publication, presenting large color plates of the works created over that summer by Pettibon, who also produced an original drawing for its sturdy cardboard cover, explores the intricate relationship between image and language that has long fascinated the artist. Just as the works in the exhibition existed at once as art and document, so too does the book itself have the hefty, physical presence of a work of art. Extensive installation views capture the dynamic combination of visual imagery and text that has come to characterize Pettibon’s practice, and a selection of gritty black-and-white photographs by Andreas Laszlo Konrath offers an intimate glimpse into the artist’s working process. Context is provided by Lucas Zwirner, who accompanied the artist throughout this period and contributed the book’s essay, “A Month with Raymond.” As Zwirner describes it, the show functioned “as an essayistic whole held together by imaginative leaps and subtle connections which Raymond has left unexplained and uninterpreted.” That perspective is rounded out in an interview with the artist by Kim Gordon, a visual artist and musician, who first encountered Pettibon’s work in the early 1980s in Los Angeles.


Publisher: David Zwirner

Artists: Raymond Pettibon

Contributors: Lucas Zwirner, Kim Gordon, Andreas Laszlo Konrath

Designer: David Chickey, Skolkin/Chickey

Printer: Editoriale Bortolazzi Stei, Verona, Italy

Publication Date: 2014

Binding: Hardcover

Dimensions: 9 1/4 x 12 1/2 in (23.5 x 31.8 cm)

Pages: 188

Reproductions: 97 color, 13 b&w

ISBN: 9780989980944

Retail: $45 US & Canada | £30 | €42

Status: Available

Raymond Pettibon

Raymond Pettibon (b. 1957, Tucson) is known for his work that 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, ranging from punchy and political to high literary and extremely poetic.

All Raymond Pettibon books

Lucas Zwirner

Lucas Zwirner is head of content at David Zwirner where he oversees all aspects of gallery publishing through books, web, video, and the podcast Dialogues.

Kim Gordon

Visual artist, musician, and curator Kim Gordon, founding member of the post-punk experimental rock band Sonic Youth, was born in 1953 in Rochester, New York, raised in Los Angeles, and is currently based in New York, where she is represented by 303 Gallery. Since graduating with a BFA from the Otis College of Art & Design in California, she has exhibited at international venues including the Gagosian Gallery in Los Angeles, South London Gallery, and White Columns and Reena Spaulings, both in New York.

Andreas Laszlo Konrath

Andreas Laszlo Konrath is a New York–based British photographer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, Telegraph Magazine, Guardian, Interview, Newsweek, Time, W, among others. In 2008, he cofounded Pau Wau Publications, which produces limited edition zines and artists’ books. For David Zwirner Books, he has contributed to Raymond Pettibon: To Wit and Jordan Wolfson: California.