Discipline: Visual Art – painting

Richard Diebenkorn

Discipline: Visual Art – painting
Region: Berkeley, CA

Edward MacDowell Medalist: 1978

Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993) was an American painter. His early work is associated with abstract expressionism and the Bay Area Figurative Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. His later work (best known as the Ocean Park paintings) were instrumental to his achievement of worldwide acclaim.

In 1940, Diebenkorn entered Stanford University, where he met his first two artistic mentors, professor and muralist Victor Arnautoff, who guided Diebenkorn in classical formal discipline with oil paint; and Daniel Mendelowitz, with whom he shared a passion for the work of Edward Hopper. After two years in the US Marines Corps and another few bouncing around the US, Diebenkorn enrolled as a student in the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco in 1946, now known as the San Francisco Art Institute which was developing its own vigorous style of abstract expressionism. In 1947, he was offered a faculty position at CSFA and taught there until 1950. He was influenced at first by Clyfford Still, who also taught at the CSFA from 1946 to 1950, Arshile Gorky, Hassel Smith and Willem de Kooning.

In 1967, after attending graduate school from 1950-1952 and traveling Europe from 1964-1965, Diebenkorn moved to Santa Monica and took up a professorship at UCLA. He moved into a small studio space in the same building as his old friend from the Bay Area, Sam Francis. In the winter of 1966–67 he returned to abstraction, this time in a distinctly personal, geometric style that clearly departed from his early abstract expressionist period. The "Ocean Park" series, begun in 1967 and developed for the next 18 years, became his most famous work and resulted in approximately 135 paintings.