The Artist


Moves to Santa Monica after accepting a position at UCLA with minimal administrative duties and a flexible schedule to preserve his own studio time. Family rents a house in near the beach.

Sam Francis offers Diebenkorn his studio in the Ocean Park neighborhood of Santa Monica, a large second-floor space in a two-story commercial brick building at corner of Ashland and Main. Diebenkorn uses a small windowless room as a temporary studio before the older artist vacates. He works exclusively on paper, producing a distinctive and monumental group of figure drawings.

President Lyndon Johnson names Richard Diebenkorn to the National Council on the Arts.

The Diebenkorns purchase a house in the Santa Monica Canyon. Diebenkorn moves into the larger studio at Francis’s building. Industrial rolled-steel pivot windows dominate the studio’s north wall. Ocean Park is a popular neighborhood for artists’ studios and homes. Immerses himself in the contemporary art scene around him; while avoiding openings, rarely misses a show. Window (CR no. 3906), first painting completed in new space, is one of his largest.

Completes his last figurative paintings, Seated Figure with Hat (CR no. 3908) and Seated Woman (CR no. 3907). Begins the abstract Ocean Park series, which will continue until he leaves Santa Monica in 1988.

Has back surgery; unable to paint for two months. While recuperating, works on second set of “fetish” objects (CR nos. 3964–69). Hires younger artists, mainly graduate students from UCLA, to help build stretchers.

First exhibition of Ocean Park paintings opens at Poindexter Gallery. The change in style, while noted, does not provoke aversion or surprise, in contrast to Diebenkorn’s first figurative shows in 1957 and 1958.

Ceases drawing from models.

Resigns from National Council on the Arts after Nixon’s inauguration.

LACMA exhibition introduces LA to Ocean Park paintings; Diebenkorn’s first solo show in the city since 1960.

Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series opens at Poindexter Gallery. The new, smaller space causes the paintings to appear cramped.

Participates in Bureau of Reclamation and Department of the Interior’s project to document water reclamation sites in Salt River Canyon in Arizona and Colorado. Helicopters over the area and takes numerous photographs, the results are the Lower Colorado works (CR nos. 4003—4010), the first completed series of Ocean Park works on paper.

Leaves Poindexter Gallery for more active representation. Fulfills his promise for a final show at the gallery with a small exhibition of drawings; it is the first exhibition of Ocean Park works on paper.

Agrees to an exclusive five-year contract with Marlborough Gallery. Becomes good friends with Gilbert Lloyd, son of Marlborough Gallery founder Frank Lloyd. First solo show at Marlborough Gallery in New York opens and draws largest critical response to date.

Takes a semester long sabbatical due to growing tensions within the UCLA Art Department. The special circumstances under which Diebenkorn was hired aggravate a few other professors, and he finds himself assigned to classes and tasks beyond the initial agreement.

Richard Diebenkorn: Paintings from the Ocean Park Series is exhibited at SFMA.

Diebenkorn resigns from UCLA. Travels with Phyllis to London for opening of Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series; Recent Work at Marlborough Fine Art, which then travels to Zurich. The show is met with mixed reviews; Diebenkorn’s work has trouble catching on in Europe.

First retrospective of drawings, Richard Diebenkorn: Drawings, 1944–1973, opens at Mary Porter Sesnon Gallery at UC Santa Cruz.

Buys two lots in Santa Monica at 2444–2448 Main Street, intending to build his own studio. Works with architect Carl Day to design a simple two-story structure with cinder block walls and clerestory windows.

A show of early abstract works opens at John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, and James Corcoran Gallery, Los Angeles.

Diebenkorn decides not to renew his contract with Marlborough after the gallery is found guilty of fraud in their lawsuit with the family of Mark Rothko. Diebenkorn’s final show at Marlborough Gallery opens in November.