The New Museum is 3,000 miles away from Hermosa Beach, California, and a million years away from a memory of meeting Raymond Pettibon in the backyard at a house party where Henry Rollins and Black Flag were emotionally abusing an audience backed straight up against the walls. The sun was shining. It was a beautiful southern California afternoon.
Facing the elevator in the museum on the Bowery are the Black Flag bars that the world has come to know. Raymond brilliantly drew them all those years ago for his brother’s hardcore band, one of many that formed in the Reagan years. The sign of a black flag blowing, a sense of insecticide—there is an ominous quality that hangs over Raymond’s work. The flag is a logo I’ve seen tattooed on many body parts, curved around skin. Once I looked down and saw it on top of a girl’s foot opposite the logo for Chanel. Here, in Raymond’s hand in the New Museum, it makes a gateway into “Raymond Pettibon: A Pen of All Work,” a show with art from the 1960s to the present.
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