Just In: Raymond Pettibon Early Work with Extensive Exhibition History

June 12, 2014

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA) is pleased to announce that an early Raymond Pettibon drawing with extensive exhibition history will go to auction this October. Untitled (What was, morally speaking, behind her veil?) from 1987 is being sold by the original owner and will trade hands for the first time this fall.

This important work was originally purchased the year it was made from Zero One Gallery in Los Angeles and since then has been included in four solo shows, two of which were traveling exhibitions. Over the past two decades, this work has been shown in major international institutions including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, The Drawing Center, New York, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, and Centre Pompidou, Paris.

Pettibon-Morally-SpeakingRaymond Pettibon (born 1957, Tucson) is an American artist with an early history grounded in the Los Angeles underground punk scene. The younger brother of guitarist and songwriter for Los Angeles’s legendary punk band, Black Flag, Pettibon became exposed to a subculture that was current, abrasive, and loud at an early age. He quickly became eager to participate by drawing graphic, comic-inspired imagery to be published in zines, and used for band fliers and album artwork. Among the impressive roster of indie and punk bands that have commissioned the artist, some of his most widely recognized album covers include those for the Foo Fighters, Sonic Youth, Black Flag, and the Minutemen.

In the mid-80s, Pettibon’s zines, fliers, and album covers were recognized amongst the art scene, leading him to his first gallery show in 1984. Charged with influences from the L.A. punk scene, Pettibon went away from drawing figures for face value and incorporated text and imagery to entice the viewer into thinking about a range of subject matters involving politics, violence, sexuality, art, literature, sports, and religion.

In an interview from 1991, Pettibone states, “The work is supposed to be finished by the reader. I’m meeting them halfway but it’s supposed to expand from the small scene on the paper. It’s a starting point towards creating a world in the imagination.”

Untitled (What was, morally speaking, behind her veil?) from 1987 is an exemplary work by Pettibon. This work confronts the viewer with an unwavering eye rendered in deliberate strokes of black India ink, accompanied by cursive writing contained in a separated comic style text block that reads, “What was, morally speaking, behind her veil?” When looking at the imagery together with the time period in which this work was made, Pettibon may be speaking to the shifting socio-political climate of the late 80s, addressing the conflict arising in the Middle East. With this work, Pettibon brings to the surface the morality of war from a philosophical standpoint, re-purposing John Rawl’s “veil of ignorance” into his own acerbic question. Using the “veil of ignorance” as a device to determine the morality of an action, Pettibon subversively confronts the ethics of war with a single, unrelenting eye of a Middle Eastern woman surrounded by a black veil, forcing the viewer to consider the perspective of the subject. Further, the work is cloaked in undertones of sexual tension, asserting the dominance of the viewer’s gaze, inquiring as to what is behind the woman’s veil in the name of morality, even if the woman does not want the viewer to know.

Untitled (What was, morally speaking, behind her veil?) from 1987 will go up for auction this fall. For further information on this work or how to bid, please contact a LAMA representative.

Lot Information:

Raymond Pettibon
Untitled (What was, morally speaking, behind her veil?)
Pen, brush, and ink on paper
Image/sheet (vis.): 21.5” x 16.5”; Frame: 28.25”x 23.25”
Exhibited: Zero One Gallery, Hollywood, “Raymond Pettibon,” traveling exhibition, 1987, The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, September 13-November 8, 1998; The Drawing Center, New York, February 20-April 10, 1999; Philadelphia Museum of Art, April 30-July 25, 1999; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, September 26, 1999-January 2, 2000; “Raymond Pettibon: Plots Laid Thick,” traveling exhibition, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, 2002; Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery; “Los Angeles 1955-1985: Birth of an Art Capital,” Centre Pompidou, Paris, March 8 – July 17, 2006.
Estimate: $18,000 – 25,000

Reference: Raymond Pettibon, quoted in “Drawn to Words” by Hunter Drohojowska, Los Angeles Times, 16 June 1991, p. 92.

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