Raymond Pettibon

No Title

Not on view



Brush and ink on paper

Sheet: 12 × 8 13/16in. (30.5 × 22.4 cm)

Accession number

Credit line
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Drawing Committee

Rights and reproductions
© artist or artist’s estate


Raymond Pettibon’s notebook-size No Title consists of a broadly drawn ink likeness of a sword descending from a cloud, boldly limned in a manner reminiscent of comic book rendering. This motif appears frequently in Pettibon’s prodigious body of drawings, it is always accompanied by different texts—which, in the artist’s characteristic fashion, range from the irreverent to the abstruse, the hilarious to the poignant. In this drawing, the image is accompanied by two lines of hand-scrawled prose: “What is their covering of themselves and their instruments with invisibility?” and “From finest cirrus rain pours down.” Echoing the fugitive syntax of these lines is Pettibon’s explanation of the sword-and-cloud image: it is “about the randomness of death and illness which would make you believe there is no center of fate and governing…no higher power.” Yet however paradoxical, the language used in Pettibon’s drawings admits a complex, literary pedigree. He often borrows excerpts from the eclectic list of authors he admires; here, the first line of prose is from Narratives of the witchcraft cases, 1648-1706, Volume 16, 1914, edited by George Lincoln Burr. By combining disparate texts to engage shifts in tone and style, Pettibon mirrors his unexpected juxtapositions of language and image.