View of “Raymond Pettibon: A Pen of All Work,” 2017. Photo: Maris Hutchinson.

Raymond Pettibon

New Museum

View of “Raymond Pettibon: A Pen of All Work,” 2017. Photo: Maris Hutchinson.

IN RAYMOND PETTIBON’S HANDS, the pen does double duty—writing and drawing, verbalizing and depicting.This could explain why his massive five-decade survey, aptly titled “A Pen of All Work,” includes only three paintings on canvas. The majority of the more than seven hundred selections on view—which represent a fraction of the estimated twenty thousand works made by Pettibon to date—are his trademark pen-and-ink drawings on paper, which push the medium’s capacity to encompass both line work and protean wordplay. Handwritten texts, ranging from pithy statement to ranting paragraphs, cannily navigate negative space in relation to the sparsely sketched images. Free-associative and even poetic (but decidedly unromantic), these works present Pettibon’s off-kilter worldview and barbed humor from myriad angles. Sometimes a familiar image will be offset by a sardonic,

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