Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Richard Diebenkorn Prints at the de Young Museum

Oh, Yessssss! It’s about time, my fellow inked up friends! This is a show worth seeing, taking in the breadth of printed works created by American artist extraordinaire, Richard Diebenkorn. The de Young Museum, located in San Francisco, California, is hosting an exhibition of Diebenkorn’s work, that every printmaker should be hitting the road this summer and heading out to San Francisco to see.

Selections from a recent acquisition of 160 prints, acquired by the de Young’s Phyllis C. Wattis Fund for Major Accessions, and the generosity of Diebenkorn’s widow, Phyllis, comprise an excellent and overdue exhibition of Diebenkorn’s energetic love for the printmaking medium. This exhibition provides an overview of his printed accomplishments and includes a number of unpublished prints and proofs that were not a part of his known editions.

This is just a wonderful group of works, my friends. Diebenkorn was known as a painter, but his prints also demonstrate his love of drawing, and his ability to transcend a color field glaze to the translucent tones only found in printmaking. He understood so well the use of line to define the contour of an object or a figure, and how to use that same line to minimally and eloquently define terrain and create immeasurable distance.
The colors, when he chooses to use them remind me a bit, of Wayne Thiebaud, but Diebenkorn’s colors are richer and more earthy. His time in New Mexico left an indelible impression upon him of the saturation of the southwestern colors, but his lighter, more lyrical pieces remind us of his color field work and the colors one only sees in the California sun-drenched landscape.

Diebenkorn brings his love of drawing to the printed matrix, and the richness of his blacks are good enough to eat. Really, this man’s printed work is as masterful as his paintings and drawings. This is, simply put, a show you cannot miss. Run, my friends, and drink in the beauty of these pieces. I assure you, you will not be disappointed.
Richard Clifford Diebenkorn Jr. (1922 –1993) was an American artist whose art was associated with abstract expressionism and the Bay Area Figurative Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Diebenkorn was born in Portland, Oregon, but he lived most of his life in California. He studied art at Stanford University, under instructors Victor Arnautoff and Daniel Mendelowitz, before serving in the United States Marine Corps, 1943-1945.

In 1946, Diebenkorn enrolled at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco, where he later taught art from 1947-1950. It was there he started to make prints, which he continued to produce until his death. From 1950-1952, Diebenkorn went to the University of New Mexico for his Masters of Fine Arts degree. He then moved back to California and settled in Berkeley, living there until 1966.

By the mid-1950s, Diebenkorn became an important painter, whose style moved between a figuration similar to Henri Matisse to an abstract expressionism clearly his own. He was also influenced by fellow abstract painters Clyfford Still, Arshile Gorky and Willem de Kooning. Although Diebenkorn was a leader of the abstract painting movement in California, and well-respected, he did not receive proper attention from the east coast art critics.

In 1967, Diebenkorn moved to Santa Monica and taught art at UCLA until 1973. That same year, he shifted his subject matter from expressionism to a geometric style, called the "Ocean Park" series. They were based on the aerial landscape of Santa Monica, where he had his studio.

Diebenkorn died in 1993 from complications due to emphysema.
1991-National Medal of Arts
1979-National Academy of Design

Public Collections:
Albertina Museum, Austria
Albright–Knox Art Gallery, NY
Art Institute of Chicago, IL
Baltimore Museum of Art, MA
Carnegie Institute, PA
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
the de Young Museum, CA
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA
New Mexico Museum of Art, NM
Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY
the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY

Stanford University’s Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts has 29 of Diebenkorn's sketchbooks, and other works on paper.
The de Young is located at Golden Gate Park | 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118 | 415.750.3600