Richard Diebenkorn

American, 1922 - 1993


Richard Diebenkorn is most widely known for his signature large-scale, vivid abstractions known as the Ocean Park paintings. His abstract, as well as his earlier figurative work, explores the balance between surface modulation and illusionistic depth, between the establishment of structure and its disintegration in light and space.


Diebenkorn born in Portland, Oregon, on April 22nd in 1922. He was raised in California and lived there for most of his life. As a young child, he was fascinated by medieval heraldry and Bayeux Tapestries. His first interest was in the American illustrators Howard Pyle (1853–1911) and N. C. Wyeth (1882–1945). He studied at Stanford University from 1940 to 1943 and received his first formal art training with Daniel Mendelowitz, who introduced him to the work of Edward Hopper, and to paintings by the artists of the Ecole de Paris such as Marc Chagall and Max Ernst. 


Diebenkorn's study was interrupted by service in the Marine Corps during World War II, but while stationed at Quantico, VA, he often visited the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC. There, Henri Matisse's Studio, Quai Saint-Michel (1916) inspired him. Matisse's technique of exposing the painting process, marrying indoor and outdoor space and aligning the planes of the composition with the edges of the canvas itself raised formal issues that Diebenkorn did not forget.


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