New Criterion: The Critic’s Notebook
On Richard Diebenkorn, Mario Buatta, Giambattista Vico & more from the world of culture.
Richard Diebenkorn: A Retrospective, by Sasha Nicholas, with contributions by Steven Nash and Wayne Thiebaud (Rizzoli): One of the happy and somewhat unexpected developments in the field of art history these past five or so years has been an ascendant interest in the mid-century “Bay Area Figurative Movement,” and specifically in its two leading luminaries: David Park and Richard Diebenkorn. Readers will surely remember Karen Wilkin’s review of the major ongoing Park retrospective—which has brought that artist’s gestural and colorful paintings of bathers, musicians, still lifes, and other subjects to new audiences across the country—from our October issue. A few years back, the Baltimore Museum of Art and SFMoMA put on “Matisse/Diebenkorn,” an exceptional demonstration of Diebenkorn’s obvious debt to a founding father of Modernism as he straddled, traversed, and positively exploded the so-called “line” between figuration and abstraction. Around the same time, Yale published Diebenkorn’s catalogue raisonné, and now, we can thank Rizzoli for a more condensed but still extensive reflection on his work in book form. With a text by the art historian Shasha Nicholas, countless beautiful reproductions, and an interview with Wayne Thiebaud, the volume is a must-have for enthusiasts of this remarkable artist. —AS