Text by Benjamin H. D. Buchloh
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. Rich in detail, his obsessively worked drawings take, as their point of departure, 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—but they have come to occupy their own genre of potent and dynamic artistic commentary. His subjects have included political figures and historical events throughout the years and with mounting intensity since September 11, 2001.
Raymond Pettibon: Here’s Your Irony Back includes full-color, striking images of Ronald and Nancy Reagan, J. Edgar Hoover, both Bush presidents, the Kennedys, Hitler, scenes from the Vietnam War and protest movements, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the prisoner abuse of Abu Ghraib, President Obama, and Osama bin Laden. As artfully described by art historian Benjamin H.D. Buchloh in his essay for the book, Pettibon’s works from this period engage the recurring tropes of the day, from caricature, sleaze, and pop, to graffiti and patriotism, engaging universal issues with a tone that is at turns desperate, hilarious, ironic, brutal, or tragic. Brought together here, the images in this book serve to capture the power and urgency of Pettibon’s original graphic endeavor.