Richard Clifford Diebenkorn (1922 – 1993)
Richard Clifford Diebenkorn, Jr. (1922-1993) was born to Mr. and Mrs. Richard Diebenkorn in April, 1922 in Portland, Oregon. At the age of two, his dad, who was in supply sales for a hotel, migrated the family to San Francisco. Richard Diebenkorn was enrolled at Lowell High School from 1937 to 1940. In spite of the fact that his parents were not especially receptive of his enthusiasm for the arts, Diebenkorn had support from his grandma, an artist, and civil rights legal counselor, encouraged his visual creative ability by giving him illustrated books, taking him to visit neighborhood art galleries, and creating in him a love for European heraldic symbolism. Richard Diebenkorn frustrated his dad by deciding to study craftsmanship and art history instead of the more down to earth quest for medicine or law at Stanford University, where he started his undergrad studies in 1940. There he studied art history and studio art, tutored by Daniel Mendelowitz and Victor Arnautoff. The former strengthened his enthusiasm for such American artists as Charles Sheeler, Arthur Dove and, most especially, Edward Hopper. Daniel Mendelowitz, one of his art history educators and guides, acquainted the yearning painter with the work of pioneers whose works would become developmental to the advancement of Richard Diebenkorn paintings. Mendelowitz likewise took him on a trip to see the home of Sarah Stein, sister-in-law of Gertrude Stein, where he viewed works by Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne and Henri Matisse – cutting edge artists who additionally roused the creative advancement of Richard Diebenkorn’s art.
Richard Diebenkorn got married to a fellow student at Stanford, Phyllis Gilman in June 1943, she bore him two kids, Gretchen and Christopher. He enlisted shortly after in the U.S. Marine Corps where he served two years from 1943 until 1945. During his station at the base in Quantico, Virginia, Richard Diebenkorn took the chance to explore the East Coast’s most revered modern day art collection, such as The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art and The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. All this time he tried different things with dynamic watercolor and in addition making the representational artwork that would persist when he was stationed in Hawaii, and these make up his “wartime” paintings. Upon returning to San Francisco in 1946, Richard Diebenkorn exploited the G.I. Bill by registering at the California School of Fine Arts. The next year, 1946, he became one of the school’s faculty members when he got the Albert Bender Grant-in-Aid which afforded him the ability use a winter painting in the lively artistic surroundings of Woodstock, New York. It was here where genuine abstract painters (among them the painter Melville Price and the sculptor Raoul Hague) were discovering their exploratory ways. Then in New York City, Richard Diebenkorn met Bradley Walker Tomlin and William Baziotes. Diebenkorn’s generally little canvases of this period mirror these sources, a large portion of who were incredibly affected by Picasso. His fellow instructors were Hassel Smith, Elmer Bischoff, Clyfford Still, Edward Corbett and David Park. In 1948, his initial sole exposition was done at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, a spectacular qualification for so young a painter. He was honored with his Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford in 1949. It was during this 1947 to late 1949 period that his foremost “phase”— the Sausalito Period—came to fruition.
Richard Diebenkorn’s first comprehensive contact with the work of Henri Matisse was during the late spring of 1952, when he saw the art show arranged by Alfred Barr for the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in its location at the Municipal Art Gallery, Los Angeles.
Continually searching for a change of landscape, in 1950, he relocated his family to Albuquerque to seek his Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of New Mexico. The acquaintances he made while traveling, educating, and learning at these distinctive universities had a tremendous effect on the youthful painter, who took an interest in an incredible trade of thoughts. During this time, when he was flying at low elevation in a plane between Albuquerque and California, he found himself able to see the countryside from above. This occurrence had a noteworthy effect on the design of a large number of his pieces, both in New Mexico and California. The “Albuquerque Phase” symbolizes the first mature declaration of Diebenkorn’s particular, and intense, presence on the American modern artwork platform and was likewise where his Abstract Expressionist phase really started. This Abstract Expressionist phase kept going for approximately five years, through his relocation to Urbana, Illinois, (where he had agreed to a faculty post at the University of Illinois) and back again to California. Richard Diebenkorn then resided in Berkeley between 1955 and 1966 (his “Berkeley Period”). From the fall of 1964 to the spring of 1965, Richard Diebenkorn voyaged all over Europe; specifically, he was conceded a cultural visa to visit imperative historical centers in the Soviet Union and visit their property of Matisse’s artistic creations.
In the mid year of 1953, Richard Diebenkorn went to New York, where, among numerous artists, he met Franz Kline for the first time. In the fall of 1953, Diebenkorn got an Abraham Rosenberg Traveling Fellowship for cutting edge art studies, affording him the opportunity to work in his studio full-time. With other artists Elmer Bischoff, David Park and eventually Frank Lobdell, he consistently took a shot at figure drawing from models; one of his biggest assortments of work contains thoroughly exploratory figure drawings. In March, 1956, he had the first of nine presentations at the Poindexter Gallery in New York; these were noted by the East Coast art foundation and promoted his national notoriety. In 1965, he started the late figurative works, described by generally level, planar zones of shading, geometric arrangements, and periodically smaller ranges of embellishing figuration. In 1966, he saw the Matisse review at the University of California, Los Angeles Art Gallery as well as a View of Notre Dame and Open Window, Collioure.
In 1967, Richard Diebenkorn and his wife relocated to Santa Monica, where he became an arts professor at UCLA, where he taught until he resigned in 1973. Amid the late 1960s and mid 1970s – alongside the companions he had made at different tutoring positions, counting David Park – Richard Diebenkorn became a focal member of the Bay Area Figurative Movement, which shunned Abstract Expressionism for figural representation. Evidently, the free will of composition and gesture in his Abstract Expressionist period was at last not to his taste. In the long run, on the other hand, Diebenkorn came to strike a harmony between the utilization of figural and abstract components in his artwork. His Ocean Park series (1967-1988), for instance, comprising of 140 canvases made within a span of 21 years, skyrocketed the matured artist into national limelight. In 1980 and 1981, he briefly altered his course, creating a somewhat unusual group of art on paper referred as the “Clubs and Spades” drawings. All these pictures have ended up becoming probably some of his most exceptionally prized works.
In 1988, Richard Diebenkorn and his wife relocated to Healdsburg, California, close to the Russian River. There he chipped away at some small scale, yet stunning, drawings and sketches until he fell sick in 1992. In one of his last grand print series, completed in 1990, he embodied disparity on the theme of a coat on a hanger. The late drawings, intended to show an extravagant edition book of poems by W.B. Yeats distributed by San Francisco’s Arion Press, represent some sort of farewell signal.
The couple were eventually compelled to move into their Berkeley apartment to be closer to medical treatment. Richard Diebenkorn passed on at the age of 71 on March 30, 1993, owing to complications from emphysema.
Although Richard Diebenkorn did not achieve the level of distinction of the Abstract Expressionists of the New York School, significant art shows in 1976 and 1997 helped springboard his notoriety to that of a noteworthy postwar American artist. His work is still examined and copied by art students till date. As the columnist John Elderfield stated, he is respected “for the diligence and durability of his accomplishment… he revives your faith in painting.”