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Richard Pettibone: A Retrospective

March 12 - May 28, 2006


The first retrospective of Richard Pettibone's work in over twenty years, on exhibition at Laguna Art Museum from March 12 through May 28, 2006, will present the full range of the artist's career from the early assemblages and small-scale "replicas" that first brought him to critical attention in Los Angeles in the late fifties and sixties to his various sculptural installations (based on his love of both Shaker furniture and Constantine Brancusi) to the recent more complexly layered work ("making anew" such modern masters as Mondrian and Ezra Pound) that engage him today premiered at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania and is now on view at the Tang Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College.(right: Richard Pettibone,  Untitled (Cover the Earth; Andy Warhol, Pepper Pot, 1962), 1964, oil on linen, 11 1/4 x 6 1/4 inches. Private Collection)

Richard Pettibone's small construction/paintings of the 1960s - appropriations of work by Warhol, Stella, and Lichtenstein - were a defining aspect of a peculiarly West Coast current of "Conceptual Pop." His earliest works were shadow-box assemblages addressing his interest in model making, especially toy trains and airplanes. In the 1960s he found his voice in diminutive "copies" of newly famous New York pop artists. Always framed and constructed upon miniature stretcher bars, they are usually presented in single-image replication.

By the 1970s, Pettibone was combining and juxtaposing different images, introducing monochrome areas and gestural scribbles into these combinations, and experimenting with the simulation of photo-realist techniques. The Brancusi sculptures from the 1980s are various sized versions of such iconic works as Bird in Space and Endless Column. In a conflation of modernism and modernist "taste," the Brancusi simulations are often presented in combination with his beautifully crafted homages to the pared-down forms of Shaker furniture. Pettibone's visual punning and aesthetic elegance is evident in his simple juxtaposition of an elegant Shaker table with a minimalist, industrial I-beam.

In the late 1980s to the present, Pettibone pursued an obsession for the poetry and criticism of modernist Ezra Pound (another great appropriator) and created a group of paintings based upon the original covers of Pound's publications. In the 1990s, he engaged the work of Piet Mondrian, whose paintings he both replicated and "reduced" in sculptural constructions. But without doubt, his most insistent and unifying theme has been his ever-expanding colloquy with two paradoxical giants of 20th-century art, Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol, whose work continues to inspire him today.

Pettibone has had approximately thirty-five solo exhibitions since 1965, primarily commercial gallery shows. A New York-based artist since the 1970s, he is currently represented by Leo Castelli Gallery, New York.

The exhibition will include approximately 200 paintings and 15 freestanding sculptures. A 192-page color catalog will accompany this exhibition. The format will replicate in size and style the early issues of Artforum. Exhibition co-curator, Michael Duncan has written an essay tracking the development of Pettibone's long career, co-curator Ian Berry offers an interview with the artist, and art historian Francis Naumann provides an essay discussing Pettibone's relationship to Marcel Duchamp.

Richard Pettibone: A Retrospective is organized by Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, California and The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York by curators Ian Berry and Michael Duncan.

Major support comes from the Friends of the Tang, Philip & Aida Siff Educational Foundation, Arts Orange County and the Orange County Community Foundation, The Gillespie Foundation, and Jeff Smith. Additional support comes from the Pasadena Art Alliance, James Corcoran, Los Angeles, Bryan & Aileen Cooke, and South Coast Plaza.


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