Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993) is one of the most important post-war American painters. He turned to abstraction in the 1960s. His works evoke the light, grid layout, and structure of California’s open streets. The most famous is a series called Ocean Park, named after an area in Santa Monica, CA, where Diebenkorn started working in the mid 1960s. Over the course of his career, he produced more than 150 prints, working in intaglio, lithography, and woodcut. Most of his prints were created during the last 15 years of his life.
Diebenkorn was born in Portland Oregon, and served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1943 until 1945, where he experimented with watercolors and representational sketches. In 1946, he enrolled at the California School of Fine Arts and began teaching there a year later. He received his BA from Stanford in 1949. His early abstract period lasted through the mid-1950s, when he turned to representational imagery, including figure studies and still lifes, until 1967. The figurative works that emerged during this later period are characterized by relatively flat, planar areas of color and geometric compositions. The Ocean Park series began in 1966 when he moved to Santa Monica. For the next 22 years, he developed a unique abstract language that produced richly chromatic and compositionally complex work.
In 1948, Diebenkorn’s first solo show was held at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. He has since exhibited at most major museums. In 1976, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, organized a major retrospective exhibition, which traveled to Washington, DC, New York City, Cincinnati, Los Angeles and Oakland. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, held a traveling exhibition of his work on paper in 1988. The Whitney Museum of American Art held a retrospective of his work in 1998, which later traveled to the Modern Art Museum of Forth Worth, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Phillips Collection. In 2012, the Orange County Museum of Art organized a show focused on his Ocean Park series, which traveled to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
Richard Diebenkorn died in Berkeley on March 30, 1993.