Abstract Critical

Richard Diebenkorn: The Berkeley Years, 1953–1966

Richard Diebenkorn, (1922-1993), Berkeley #3, 1953, oil on canvas, 54 1/8 x 68 in. (137.5 x 172.7 cm), Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, bequest of Josephine Morris, 2003.25.3, © 2013 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation. All rights reserved.

Richard Diebenkorn, (1922-1993), Berkeley #3, 1953, oil on canvas, 54 1/8 x 68 in. (137.5 x 172.7 cm), Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, bequest of Josephine Morris, 2003.25.3, © 2013 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation. All rights reserved.
Richard Diebenkorn, (1922-1993), Berkeley #22, 1954, oil on canvas. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Regents Collections Acquisition Program, 86.5886 ©, 2013 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation

Richard Diebenkorn, (1922-1993), Berkeley #22, 1954, oil on canvas. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Regents Collections Acquisition Program, 86.5886 ©, 2013 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation

 

Richard Diebenkorn, (1922-1993), Berkeley #44, 1955, oil on canvas, 59 x 64 in. (149.9 x 162.6 cm), Private collection [1124], © 2013 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation. All rights reserved.

Richard Diebenkorn, (1922-1993), Berkeley #44, 1955, oil on canvas, 59 x 64 in. (149.9 x 162.6 cm), Private collection [1124], © 2013 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation. All rights reserved.

 

Richard Diebenkorn, (1922-1993), Untitled, 1955, oil on muslin, 12 3/4 x 15 7/8 in. (32.4 x 40.6 cm). The Wayne Thiebaud Foundation © 2013 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation

Richard Diebenkorn, (1922-1993), Untitled, 1955, oil on muslin, 12 3/4 x 15 7/8 in. (32.4 x 40.6 cm). The Wayne Thiebaud Foundation © 2013 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation

 

Richard Diebenkorn, (1922-1993), Seawall, 1957, oil on canvas, 20 x 26 in. (50.8 x 66 cm), Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, gift of Phyllis G. Diebenkorn, 1995.96, © 2013 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation. All rights reserved.

Richard Diebenkorn, (1922-1993), Seawall, 1957, oil on canvas, 20 x 26 in. (50.8 x 66 cm), Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, gift of Phyllis G. Diebenkorn, 1995.96, © 2013 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation. All rights reserved.

 

Richard Diebenkorn, (1922-1993), Figure on a Porch, 1959, oil on canvas, 57 x 62 in. (144.8 x 157.5 cm), Oakland Museum of California, gift of the Anonymous Donor Program of the American Federation of the Arts, A60.35.5, © 2013 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation. All rights reserved.

Richard Diebenkorn, (1922-1993), Figure on a Porch, 1959, oil on canvas, 57 x 62 in. (144.8 x 157.5 cm), Oakland Museum of California, gift of the Anonymous Donor Program of the American Federation of the Arts, A60.35.5, © 2013 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation. All rights reserved.

 

Richard Diebenkorn, (1922-1993), Interior with Doorway, 1962, oil on canvas, 70 3/8 x 59 1/2 in. (178.8 x 151.1 cm), Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Henry D. Gilpin Fund, 1964.3, © 2013 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation. All rights reserved.

Richard Diebenkorn, (1922-1993), Interior with Doorway, 1962, oil on canvas, 70 3/8 x 59 1/2 in. (178.8 x 151.1 cm), Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Henry D. Gilpin Fund, 1964.3, © 2013 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation. All rights reserved.

 

Richard Diebenkorn, (1922-1993), Cityscape 1 (Landscape 1), 1963, oil on canvas, San Francisco Museum of Art, © 2013 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation. All rights reserved.

Richard Diebenkorn, (1922-1993), Cityscape 1 (Landscape 1), 1963, oil on canvas, San Francisco Museum of Art, © 2013 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation. All rights reserved.

 

Richard Diebenkorn, (1922-1993), Recollections of a Visit to Leningrad, 1965, oil on canvas, 73 x 84 in. (185.4 x 213.4 cm). Private collection, © 2013 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation. All rights reserved.

Richard Diebenkorn, (1922-1993), Recollections of a Visit to Leningrad, 1965, oil on canvas, 73 x 84 in. (185.4 x 213.4 cm). Private collection, © 2013 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation. All rights reserved.

 

Richard Diebenkorn, (1922-1993), Untitled (Yellow Collage), 1966, cut-and-pasted paper, gouache, and ink on paper, 28 3/4 x 22 in. (73 x 55.9 cm). The Grant Family Collection © 2013 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation. All rights reserved.

Richard Diebenkorn, (1922-1993), Untitled (Yellow Collage), 1966, cut-and-pasted paper, gouache, and ink on paper, 28 3/4 x 22 in. (73 x 55.9 cm). The Grant Family Collection
© 2013 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation. All rights reserved.

 

Richard Diebenkorn: The Berkeley Years, 1953–1966, on view at the de Young Museum from June 22 through September 29, 2013, will be the first exhibition to explore in-depth the work produced by Diebenkorn between 1953 and 1966, when he lived in Berkeley, California.  The presentation will include over 120 of the artist’s paintings and drawings assembled from collections across the country, many of them rarely or never before seen in public exhibitions. Diebenkorn’s engagement with the unique settings of the Bay Area, along with his personal history, ties this exhibition deeply to the region.

Diebenkorn underwent a remarkable metamorphosis during what is now known as his “Berkeley period,” beginning with an abstract phase influenced by the Bay Area’s natural environment, and then moving to figurative works, including figures, interiors, and still lifes. Fiercely independent, Diebenkorn continued to explore his shifting conceptions of abstraction and figuration over these years, and rejected allegiances to schools or movements.

The above is from the exhibition press-release. There is more information here.

 

  1. Sue said…

    If only they could travel to Australia, this sounds like a great exhibition I wish I could make it!

  2. Ashley West said…

    I have heard that an exhibition of Diebenkorn’s work is planned at The Royal Academy for 2015, though I’m not sure whether it is this show coming over here or another aspect of his work. I’ll let you when I find out – nothing on the RA website yet.

  3. Robin Greenwood said…

    An interesting comparison, perhaps, with Paul Behenke?

    • Sam said…

      I’m pretty sure Paul Behenke would say he is influenced by de Stael – though perhaps as much through his drawing on John Hoyland as directly.

    • Ashley West said…

      An interesting question. Taking a look at Behnke’s work on his website they strike me to different degrees as ‘full of holes’ or flippings between forms and spaces. Despite (or because of)the saturation and ‘flatness’ of the colour they don’t readily pull to the surface to constitute objects in themselves (the colour/space is too deep?). I find a tension in looking at them, as if I have to work too hard to make that happen (seeing the surface texture in the flesh might help). Of course the diagonals and suggestion of forms accentuates this – ‘D’Artagnan’ (third image on website)is a good example of this. It may be that this is what he is after. Interesting to compare this with Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park No.29 (http://www.sol-space.co.uk/content/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/d.jpg), or most of the pieces above, where everything comes readily to the surface, while retaining reference to landscape. This is perhaps a testament to the rigour in his working process?

      • Robin Greenwood said…

        I agree. Maybe the contradictions of harsh unmodulated colour against perspectival hints is too great in the Behnke? These Diebenkorn’s, and the more abstract one you flag up, seem much more able to reconcile surface with depth.

  4. Sam said…

    I’ve not read anything about Diebenkorn’s career, so this maybe a well known fact about him already, but it seems de Stael was a big influence in mid-50s…

    • Luke Elwes said…

      That’s interesting Sam.
      There are some clear comparisons to be made with De Stael’s work, shown for the first time in 1953 at the Knoedler Galleries in New York and the Phillips Gallery in Washington. ‘View of Marseille’ 1954, now in the LA County Museum, certainly compares – in terms of subject, handling and composition – with Diebenkorn’s ‘Seawall’ 1957. But it’s hard to say if this link is direct or coincidental.
      Did Diebenkorn talk anywhere about de Stael’s influence, or mention seeing his work at this time, or later? It may be that he saw de Steal’s work on his brief visit to Europe in 1964 but there is no mention in the standard texts and Gerald Nordland in particular only ever refers to his seminal encounter with Matisse in the Hermitage in 1964, subsequently regarded by him and others as marking the end of the ‘Berkeley’ period and the beginnings of the new ‘Ocean Park’ series.