Lot 543
  • 543

Raymond Pettibon

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  • Raymond Pettibon
  • Self-Portrait as Goofy-Foot
  • titled, inscribed and dated April 21, 2000

  • acrylic on paper
  • 80 by 79 in. 203.2 by 200.7 cm.


Regen Projects, Los Angeles
Acquired by the present owner from the above

Catalogue Note

The fertile yet undefined shores of Long Beach, California provide the philosophical and aesthetic foundation for Raymond Pettibon.  Having earned a degree in Economics from UCLA, spending time as a mathematics teacher, and possessing a library shelf that contains the disparate musings of authors from Henry James to Marcel Proust, Pettibon’s impressive body of work resists any strict ontological categorization. His imagery meanders and gleans across subjects, words and reference points, and is as likely to address sporting or cartoon subjects as issues of sexuality, politics or Nineteenth-century literature.

Although Pettibon’s association to surfing would seem an easy reference, Pettibon himself, dismisses the repetitive association to as mnemonic. For Pettibon, these recurrences are auxiliary and far more characterized by whimsy. In an interview with the artist, Dennis Cooper notes that “there is an utopian quality to your surfing and ocean imagery” to which Pettibon responds, "...but it can also be the way something like surfing describes a society, and the people in it. I've done a lot of large drawings and prints of that imagery. It has that epic nature, that sublime nature, that almost asks you to reproduce it full sized on the wall.." (Raymond Pettibon from Rob Storr, Raymond Pettibon, New York, 2001, p. 25)

The impressive Self-Portrait as Goofy Foot, is an accessible  counterpart to the 14 by 30 foot , Untitled (Well you Needn’t), 1997, installation at the David Zwirner Gallery.  In the present lot, a fibrous paper absorbs the aqueous blues and green pigments and is highlighted by splashes of white acrylic which mimic the ocean's foam and spray, and which accent the volume and force of the wave’s curve. Capturing the formidable force of the wave, we are reminded of the similarly powerful and evocative Great Wave of Hokusai. (Fig. 1)

The ephemeral quality of the water is weighted by the substantial application of pigment. This contrasts greatly to the thinly painted Goofy Foot, who is dwarfed by the wave which confidently carves through its cavern, perhaps alluding to the foreboding inscription, "The Moral Significance of It Lay Far Deeper.”  The painting’s namesake, is in fact one of the oldest terms of surfing jargon.  Coined from a Walt Disney film, where the character Goofy surfed with his right foot forward, the phrase has made its way into the lexicon of all boarding sports in order to distinguish the stance from a regular foot stance, which has the left foot forward on the board.  Goofy Foot, is also the namesake of another Long Beach native, Tim Sherer, one of the preeminent surfers of the world. Mr. Sherer, founder and CEO of the reknown Goofy Foot Surf School has, since 1994, instructed over 40,000 students, including such eminent personalities as Jimmy Buffet. By appropriating himself as Goofy Foot, Pettibon directly aligns himself with the legendary and heroic associations of this namesake.  

Whether the present lot is a deliberate homage to the aforementioned, or simply a whimsical association is unclear. However, this is consistent with the ebbs and flows of Pettibon's oeuvre. Much like the ocean itself, the imagery of Raymond Pettibon drifts and meanders with meaning and significance, leaving the viewer on the shores to contemplate and wonder.

Katsushika Hokusai
The Great Wave
Ink and color on paper
10 by 15 in.
“The Metropolitan Museum of Art, H. O. Havermeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (JP 1847)
Photograph © 1994 The Metropolitan Museum of Art”