October 7, 2012

MODERN ART & DESIGN AUCTION

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Lot 164: Richard Pettibone

Lot 164: Richard Pettibone

Frank Stella, "Union", 1966

1967
Enamel on canvas in artist's frame
Signed upper canvas stretcher verso
Canvas: 5.625" x 9.625"; Frame: 5.75" x 9.75"
Literature: Berry, Ian, and Michael Duncan. Richard Pettibone: A Retrospective. Exhibition catalogue. Saratoga Springs: Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum, 2005. #102 (for a similar example).
Estimate: $18,000 - $25,000
Price Realized: $21,250
Inventory Id: 3530

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After Richard Pettibone’s first show at the Ferus Gallery on La Cienega in Los Angeles and succeeding shows in New York, he was asked if he thought his work was conceptual. He famously answered, “It seems to me that it’s fairly original not to be original,” a fitting response from an artist who injects humor into his painstaking appropriations. Full of diminutive devotions to Duchamp, Warhol, Lichtenstein, and Johns, his Ferus Gallery one-man exhibition in 1965 was inspired by two major Southern California shows, the 1962 Warhol exhibition of 32 Campbell’s soup cans at the Ferus Gallery and the first American Marcel Duchamp retrospective at the Pasadena Museum of Art in 1963. Imitative of Pop Art yet meticulously wrought using his skills as a model train builder, his tiny paintings were deemed “miniatures.” Pettibone, however, was merely maintaining the size of the images of contemporary paintings he would find in Artforum magazine.

In a text painting from 1985, A Snow Shovel is Nice, Pettibone declares his admiration for Duchamp while establishing his personal art-making practice: “Marcel Duchamp is without question my favorite artist, / He made being an artist seem so easy. / Just pick something. / Anything. / A urinal will do, or a bicycle wheel.” Duchamp is the starting point for appropriation, and for Pettibone at the time, a consummate wellspring of readymades. The 1965 painting, Marcel Duchamp, “Pliant de Voyage”, 1917, is a modern re-imagining of the Underwood typewriter cover readymade that doubled as a portable exhibit and “skirt-like reference” to his girlfriend at the time, Beatrice Wood. In Katherine Dreier’s Room (1966), Pettibone silkscreened a replica of an existing photograph of art collector Katherine Dreier’s library. An homage to Warhol’s photographic reproductions, Katherine Dreier’s Room allows the viewer to behold - through the eyes of Pettibone the printer and painter of his own brand of readymades - two of Duchamp’s most ambitious works, The Large Glass and Tu m’. Revived in mint green and black, these pieces exhibit the marriage of Pettibone’s roles as master craftsman and discerning curator to result in impeccably wrought conceptual art documentation.

In addition to Duchamp, at the Ferus show Pettibone revered Jasper Johns’ use of color, expressed through the Map paintings as well as five bicycle wheel readymades with the forks of each wheel painted in a primary color. He further explored John’s palette in 1967 with Jasper Johns,“Light Bulb,” 1958 (red, yellow, blue), three acrylic and photo-engraved canvases that replicate Johns’ bronze cast of a light bulb. Curator Michael Duncan asserts, “Pettibone in a sense desolidified Johns’ work, shifting it from a sculptural to a purely conceptual presence and enhancing its status as a Duchampian readymade.” Throughout his appropriations of modern and contemporary artists, including works by Frank Stella, Constantin Brancusi, Pablo Picasso, and Ed Ruscha, Pettibone maintains the model-maker’s attention to detail while evoking an innate passion for his contemporaries.

Berry, Ian, and Michael Duncan. Richard Pettibone: A Retrospective. Saratoga Springs: The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, 2005. Print.Buskirk, Martha. “Thoroughly Modern Marcel.” October 70, The Duchamp Effect (Autumn, 1994): 113-125. Print.Mink, James. Marcel Duchamp: Art as Anti-Art. Cologne: Taschen, 2006. Print.Singer, Thomas. “In the Manner of Duchamp, 1942-47: The Years of the ‘Mirrorical Return.’” The Art Bulletin 86.2 (Jun., 2004): 346-369. Print.Wright Art Gallery.Forty Years of California Assemblage. Los Angeles: University of California, 1989. Print.

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