Richard Clifford Diebenkorn, Jr. (April 22, 1922 – March 30, 1993) was a
well-known 20th century American painter.
Richard Clifford Diebenkorn, Jr. (April 22, 1922 – March 30,
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 achievment of world-wide acclaim.
Richard Diebenkorn was born in Portland, Oregon; his family moved to San
Francisco, California when he was two. In 1940, Diebenkorn entered Stanford
University. At first, he painted and drew in a representational style that was
in a large part influenced by Edward Hopper. However, during the late 1940s and
early 1950s he lived and worked in various places: New York City, Woodstock, New
York, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Urbana, Illinois, Berkeley, California and he
developed his own style of abstract expressionist painting. Abstract
expressionism had captured worldwide attention having developed in New York
during the 1940s. After the Second World War the focus of the art world shifted
from the School of Paris to the New York School. In the early 1950s Diebenkorn
adopted abstract expressionism as his vehicle for self-expression, influenced at
first by Clyfford Still, Arshile Gorky and Willem de Kooning. He became a
leading abstract expressionist on the west coast. In 1950 to 1952, Diebenkorn
was enrolled under the G.I. Bill in the University of New Mexico’s graduate
fine-arts department where he created a lucid version of Abstract Expressionism.
He lived in Berkeley, California from 1955 to 1966. By the mid-1950s Diebenkorn
had become an important figurative painter, in a style that bridged Henri
Matisse with abstract expressionism. Diebenkorn, Elmer Bischoff, David Park,
James Weeks, and others participated in a renaissance of figurative painting,
dubbed the Bay Area Figurative Movement.
In 1965 Diebenkorn was granted a cultural visa to visit and view Henri Matisse
paintings in important Soviet museums. When he returned to painting in the Bay
Area in mid-1965 his resulting works summed up all that he had learned from his
more than a decade as a leading figurative painter.
In 1967 Diebenkorn returned to abstraction, this time in a distinctly personal,
geometric style that clearly departed from his early abstract expressionist
period. The "Ocean Park" series, began in 1967 and developed for over
twenty-five years, became his most famous work and resulted in more than 140
paintings. Based on the aerial landscape and perhaps the view from the window of
his studio, these large-scale abstract compositions are named after a community
in Santa Monica, California, where he had his studio. The Ocean Park series
bridges his earlier abstract expressionist works with Color field painting and
Lyrical Abstraction. He taught at this time at UCLA.
Richard Diebenkorn died due to complications from emphysema in Berkeley on March
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