Raymond Pettibon was born in Tucson, Arizona, in 1957. The fourth of five children, Pettibon earned a degree in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles. After graduating from college, Pettibon worked briefly as a high-school math teacher, but soon set out to launch a career as a professional artist.
A cult figure among underground music devotees for his early work associated with the Los Angeles punk rock scene, Pettibon has acquired an international reputation as one of the foremost contemporary American artists working with drawing, text, and artist’s books. Pettibon is as likely to explore the subject of surfing as he is typography; themes from art history and nineteenth-century literature appear in the same breath as 1960s American politics and contemporary pop culture.
In his 1998 anthology, Raymond Pettibon: A Reader, the viewer can read over Pettibon’s shoulder to discover a handful of the artist’s muses: Henry James, Mickey Spillane, Marcel Proust, William Blake, and Samuel Beckett, among others. In the 1990s, Pettibon extended his work beyond the printed page and onto the walls of the exhibition space, creating wall-size drawings and collages.
Retrospectives of his work have been held at Philadelphia Museum of Art, Santa Monica Museum of Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. In 2002, an exhibition of his drawings, “Plots Laid Thick,” was organized by the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Spain, and traveled to Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, and Haags Gemeentemuseum in the Netherlands. Pettibon’s work was also featured at Documenta XI in Kassel, Germany. Pettibon lives and works in New York City.