Apr 30–Aug 1, 2005

Richard Pettibone: A Retrospective


This is the first retrospective of Richard Pettibone’s work in over twenty years. This exhibition 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.

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.

After ICA, Richard Pettibone: A Retrospective travelled to the Tang Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College and Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach, California.

Support for making the travel of the exhibition and the catalog possible comes from The Siff Foundation and the Pasadena Art Alliance. Support for the exhibition at ICA has been provided by The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The Dietrich Foundation Inc., the Overseers Board for the Institute of Contemporary Art, friends and members of ICA, and the University of Pennsylvania.