Raymond Pettibon: The Punk Years, 1978–86

  • Installation view at Specific Object, New York

  • Raymond Pettibon, The Circle Jerks at The Fleetwood / Sat. May 10, 1980

  • Live performance at the University Galleries at FAU

  • Installation view at the University Galleries at FAU, Boca Raton, FL

Curated by David Platzker

ICI’s Exhibitions in a Box series celebrates the fact that interesting projects can come in small parcels, and takes its lead from initiatives such as Marcel Duchamp’s Boîte-en-valise and George Maciunas’s Fluxkits. Charged with a do-it-yourself imperative, each Exhibition in a Box provides source material from which venues can generate high-content, low-cost exhibitions, adapting and adding to the materials provided according to the space and facilities available. An evolving series developed by artists, curators and art historians, the content of the boxes variously includes small-scale artworks, videos, sound works, instruction works, ephemera and archive materials.

These projects are suitable for all scales of institution, from libraries and artist-run spaces to art centers, university galleries, museum project spaces or education centers. Each box will arrive with materials ready to install, requiring little or no equipment for presentation. The projects are conceived to stimulate discussions and events, which will be organized by the host venue. Virtually any configuration is possible: for example, the box contents may be added to with contributions from the host venue’s collections and archives, or can be the starting point for an exhibition that presents local artists’ practices in relation to a broader art issue or event. There are three categories of Exhibitions in a Box: key historic precedents that influence art practice and exhibition making now; artist-initiated boxes; and a project series, focusing on one period or range of works from contemporary artists.

The first of the project series, Raymond Pettibon: The Punk Years, 1978–86, taps into the steady stream of this California artist’s early graphic arts production, before he appeared on the contemporary art stage. It includes over 200 examples of Pettibon’s powerful designs made between 1978 and 1986, when he was immersed in the Los Angeles punk rock scene, doing the graphic design for Black Flag and other punk bands. While Pettibon remains a cult figure among underground music devotees for these early designs, over the past 20 years he has acquired an international reputation as one of the foremost contemporary American artists working with drawing, text and artist’s books. Crossing back and forth between music and the visual arts, this project shows Pettibon’s raw imagery, heavily shadowed technique and characteristic visual punch in formation, and includes 44 zines, 120 fliers and a selection of album covers.

Most of the designs were done for SST Records, founded by Pettibon’s brother Greg Ginn, who was also guitarist for Black Flag. In addition to the two-dimensional contents in the box, vinyl records of SST bands, including Minutemen, Sonic Youth and Hüsker Dü, as well as a DVD of a 1983 performance of Black Flag, enrich the context and show Pettibon in his original milieu. To adapt the project to their own communities and bring in new audiences, institutions presenting this project might wish to consider inviting innovative local designers to present their own graphics alongside these, or host performances by local bands.


David Platzker

David Platzker is the Director of Specific Object, an innovative gallery, bookshop, and storehouse for a range of items from artists’ publications, multiples and unique works of art, as well as literature, music, and counterculture. He was previously the Curator of Drawings and Prints at The Museum of Modern Art, New York from 2013-2018. Before founding Specific Object, Platzker was the executive director of Printed Matter from 1998 to 2004, the non-profit institution dedicated to the promotion of artists’ books and publications. His curatorial projects at Specific Object and Printed Matter included shows of John Baldessari, Hanne Darboven, Marcel Duchamp, Guerrilla Girls, Jenny Holzer, Yoko Ono, Raymond Pettibon, Ed Ruscha, and Claes Oldenburg. At The Museum of Modern Art he co-curated There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4’33” in collaboration with Jon Hendricks; Sites of Reason (2014) with Erica Papernik; and in 2015 the exhibition Gilbert & George: The Early Years.


touring schedule

One Grand Gallery
Portland, OR, United States
December 7, 2012 - January 25, 2013

McIntosh Gallery
London, Canada
April 17, 2012 - November 3, 2012

The University Gallery, University of Massachusetts Lowell
Lowell, MA, United States
January 23, 2012 - February 17, 2012

Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson
Tucson, AZ, United States
April 17, 2011 - December 18, 2011

University Galleries at Florida Atlantic University
Boca Raton, FL, United States
November 13, 2010 - January 22, 2011

Visual Arts Center, Boise State University
Boise, ID, United States
September 15, 1998 - October 25, 1998

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