The Artist

The Artist

All paintings start out of a mood, out of a relationship with things or people, out of a complete visual impression. —Richard Diebenkorn

Richard Diebenkorn (1922–1993) produced, over a forty-five year span, a body of work whose beauty and mysteriously empathic nature has long attracted many devotees worldwide. He lived during the period of America’s great surge onto the world stage of visual art, working alongside the likes of Willem de Kooning, Philip Guston, and Joan Mitchell, but forging a decisively independent style. While still in his twenties he moved briefly to New York from his native San Francisco region, realizing that its artistic climate was the most stimulating locus in the United States, but soon returned to California where, aside from two important early years in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and a year teaching in Urbana, Illinois, he remained.

From a glorious early flowering in the language of Abstract Expressionism, where he responded directly to the light and landscapes of New Mexico and the urban Midwest, Diebenkorn turned to a prolonged period of making figurative and landscape art, going very much against the grain of his generation. A leader in Bay Area figurative painting, Diebenkorn produced work that was received with enormous affection and excitement by a wide audience. Then, quite abruptly in 1966, he turned to a new form of abstraction, again decisively different from his peers. Moving from Berkeley to Los Angeles, he proceeded to make the monumental abstract works known as the “Ocean Park” series, incorporating the lessons of two of his key influences, Henri Matisse and Piet Mondrian.

—Jane Livingston

Image: Richard Diebenkorn in his Hillcrest Road studio, Berkeley, Calif., 1959, with Man and Woman Seated (1958); photographed by Fred Lyon for Horizon Magazine

Artist Chronology

Originally published in Richard Diebenkorn: The Catalogue Raisonné

Public Collections

Explore institutions that have unique works by Richard Diebenkorn in their permanent collections

The Beginnings of Richard Diebenkorn

A new, scholarly video exploring the early work of Richard Diebenkorn. The short documentary is preservation of the artist’s beginnings in video format and the first in a new IGTV series, @diebenkornfoundation.

It was filmed on the occasion of Richard Diebenkorn: Paintings and Works on Paper (1946-1952) (March 19 – August 21, 2020) at Van Doren Waxter, New York, during the early months of the pandemic when the exhibition was closed to the public and features interviews with Daisy Murray Holman, Head of Archives at the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation and Rachel Federman, Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Drawings, The Morgan Library & Museum.


Richard Diebenkorn: A Retrospective

Sasha Nicholas
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California Landscapes: Richard Diebenkorn | Wayne Thiebaud

Written by John Yau, with contributions by Wayne Thiebaud and Philippe de Montebello
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Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955

Scott A. Shields
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Janet Bishop and Katherine Rothkopf, eds.
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Richard Diebenkorn: The Catalogue Raisonné

Jane Livingston and Andrea Liguori, eds.
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