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Point Break: Raymond Pettibon, Surfers and Waves
Table of Contents
About The Book
“All this must be either surfed or painted”: This is the underlying sentiment behind Raymond Pettibon’s iconic works of surfers and waves in this quintessential volume dedicated to the motif.
Pettibon is known for his characteristically enigmatic aesthetic and sharply satirical critiques of American culture. Though drenched in cynicism, his work empathizes with the dizzying madness of our own humanity as it engages both so-called high and low culture. Perhaps most poetic among the many motifs present in Pettibon’s oeuvre is the surfer. In 1985, Pettibon began his series of surfers and waves––which he continues to work on to this day––popular for depicting a lone surfer silently carving “a line of beauty” along an impossibly large wave.
This book spotlights a selection of more than one hundred surfers from the series, from smaller monochromatic works on paper to colorful large-scale paintings applied directly to the wall. For Pettibon’s protagonist in these works, surfing exists apart from all else. Momentarily he achieves sublimity on the wave, distant yet synced with turbulent reality. We are forced to confront our own scale: small and feeble in the face of the power of nature, what is beyond our control. Pettibon’s lyrical writings on these painted surfaces—both his own and lines taken from literature—reference his own philosophies and the confusions of reality: he critiques and highlights the hypocrisies and vanities of the world he engages. To help navigate, the scholar Brian Lukacher explores art-historical antecedents in Pettibon’s work, particularly the seascapes of J. M. W. Turner, and Jamie Brisick, the writer and former professional surfer, examines the Southern California surf and music culture of Pettibon’s youth. Professional big wave surfers Emi Erickson and Stephanie Gilmore also describe the sensory experience of conquering the enormous waves depicted in Pettibon’s works.
- Publisher: David Zwirner Books (June 7, 2022)
- Length: 192 pages
- ISBN13: 9781644230350
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Raves and Reviews
"Perhaps no subject better captures the spirit of Mr. Pettibon’s drawings than that of surfers dwarfed by towering waves."
– Nancy Princenthal, The New York Times
“This volume brings together a host of reflections on the smallness and feebleness of humans in the face of the grandiosity of mother nature—an element entirely beyond our realm of control.”
– Flaunt Magazine
"Pettibon’s surfers can muster a whirlwind of emotions within the viewer. They “express the terror and bliss of being alive,” said The Skateroom founder, Charles-Antoine Bodson, on a recent partnership with the artist."
"Pettibon’s bread is canvas and his ink spreads smooth, baby."
– Beach Grit
"For most certainly we have discovered the most aesthetically-pleasing book released this June.”
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