“I wished I had stuck with the idea of just painting the same painting like the soup can and never painting another painting. When someone wanted one, you would just do another one. Does anyone do that now?” -Andy Warhol, 1981
The FLAG Art Foundation is pleased to present Richard Pettibone: Endless Variation, on view October 27, 2018-January 19, 2019, on its 9th floor. A prominent figure in the Pop, Post Pop, and Appropriation Art movements, Richard Pettibone creates small-scale replicas of iconic masterpieces by artists ranging from Marcel Duchamp to Roy Lichtenstein to Andy Warhol. The intimately-sized works, some as small as two by two inches, speak to themes of reproduction, originality, and authorship—ideas as relevant in today’s art world as when he began painting in the early 1960s. Pettibone’s work continues a line of questioning that began with Duchamp and ran through successive generations of artists: What does it mean to appropriate an image of an image of an image?
The exhibition features work that spans 1964 to 2018, focusing on self-portraiture, seriality, and photorealism—three major themes within Pettibone’s oeuvre that the artist continually, and often humorously, critiques and reinterprets. The artist’s facility with representation is particularly evident in his photorealistic paintings and “combine” works, which feature multiple canvases collaged together. Presented en masse, this rarely seen part of the artist’s practice sheds light onto Pettibone’s interest in the intersection of style, pastiche, and art history. Juxtaposed with fine art reproductions of the satin ballgowns from Jean-August Dominique Ingres’s Princess de Broglie, 1853, and the rigid geometry of Frank Stella’s Union Pacific, 1950, are testosterone-fueled images of dirt bikes, race cars, and playboy center-folds.
FLAG’s south gallery is dedicated to the artist’s recurring and career-spanning recreations of Warhol’s iconic Campbell’s Soup Cans, with more than 150 canvases on view. Pettibone he first encountered in the artist’s seminal 1962 Soup Cans exhibition at Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. “I remember that show so clearly,” Pettibone recounts, “The 32 cans were shown in two rooms, and when you walked into this room, all the paintings were all the same. And then you walked into the second room, and it was more of the same; it was the craziest show I’ve ever seen! But slowly I realized, ‘oh my god, they’re all different flavors.’”
Pettibone’s self-portraits place the artist as subject matter, revealing more about his life and influences, all laden with humor and poetic wit. Installed chronologically, these works take shape in various forms, ranging from the artist’s own fingerprints, to paintings based on and scaled to candid polaroids, to series inspired by Duchamp’s Wanted: $2,000 Reward, 1923, posters and Coeurs Volants (Fluttering Hearts), 1936. The latter nods to Pettibone’s recent heart attack, the date of which, “October 16, 2016,” is inscribed at the top of the painting. Like Duchamp, Pettibone believed everything was a readymade and up for grabs, and his work is infused with a reverence for the artists that he was appropriating – often simultaneous with the artists creating their works—offering an inventive commentary on 20th-century art.
Richard Pettibone (b. 1938, Alhambra, CA) is an artist living and working in Charlotteville, NY. A pioneer of appropriation art, Pettibone has dedicated his career to creating miniature replicas of artworks by iconic contemporary artists, including Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol. Initially constructed to match the size of images of the original works he found in Artforum magazine, Pettibone’s small-scale facsimiles address themes of reproduction, seriality, and authorship. In 1962, Pettibone received his MFA from the Otis Art Institute, CA. He has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, including Richard Pettibone: Recent Works, Castelli Gallery, New York, NY (2018); Richard Pettibone: 64 Paintings, 9 Works, Castelli Gallery, New York, NY, (2016); Richard Pettibone (1964-2009), Galerie Mitterrand, Paris, France (2014); Richard Pettibone-Paintings and Sculpture: 1964-2003, David Nolan Gallery, New York, NY (2013); among others. Recent group exhibitions include Miniatures by Master Artists, Joseph K. Levene Fine Art, Ltd., New York, NY (2018); Very Appropriate, Robert Berman Gallery, Santa Monica, CA (2017); Marcel Duchamp Fountain – An Homage, Francis M. Naumann Fine Art, New York, NY (2017); The Natural Order of Things, Museo Jumex, Mexico City, Mexico (2016); The Appropriationnist (Against and With), Villa du Parc, Centre d’Art Contemporain, Annemasse, France (2015); among others. Several institutions have honored him with significant retrospective exhibitions, including The Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, in 2005, and the Laguna Art Museum, Laguna, CA, in 2006.
Join the conversation online and follow FLAG’s Instagram (@flagartfoundation) and Twitter (@FLAGartNYC), and use the #RichardPettibone hashtag when posting.
 Shaar, Elisa. “Richard Pettibone: Painting the Same Painting Then and Now,” Richard Pettibone, September 10-October 26, 2013, published in 2013 by Castelli Gallery.