Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Diebenkorn, Richard

Freeway and Aqueduct
oil on canvas
23 1/4 x 28 inch.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art

"When I'm half way there with a painting, it can occasionally be thrilling... But it happens very rarely; usually it's agony. I go to great pains to mask the agony. But the struggle is there. It's the invisible enemy." (Richard Diebenkorn)

Richard Diebenkorn (1922 - 1993) was a well-known 20th century American painter. His early work is associated with Abstract expressionism and the Bay Area Figurative Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. His later work (best known as the Ocean Park paintings) were instrumental to
his achievement of worldwide acclaim.

He maintained his love of vivid color and structured composition in both his abstract and representational works. Born in Portland, Oregon, he moved with his family to San Francisco in 1924. After attending Stanford University, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, where he concentrated on art classes. In the winter of 1944, when he was stationed in Virginia, he frequently visited The Phillips Collection, where he was inspired by the paintings of Henri Matisse and Paul Cezanne. He particularly admired Matisse’s technique of structuring space through planes of color, merging indoor and outdoor space. Returning to San Francisco in 1946, he enrolled at the California School of Fine Arts.  Awarded a fellowship the same year, he moved East, living and working in Woodstock, New York, and making many contacts. Throughout the 1940s and early 1950s, he followed a distinctive abstract vocabulary of forms, stylistically rooted in the New York School, placing him firmly within the ethos of American modernism.
From 1955 to 1973 he taught at several California arts institutions, including a position at UCLA while he worked in a studio in the Ocean Park district of Santa Monica. In 1955 he shifted from abstraction to a more representational mode, making reference to observed subjects. Until 1967, when he returned to abstraction, he executed still-lifes, landscapes and interior figure paintings that present his finely tuned sense of color and structure.