Richard Diebenkorn (American, 1922-1993)
Crocker Art Museum Purchase
Richard Diebenkorn began his art career as an abstract painter, having studied at the California School of Fine Arts under David Park and Elmer Bischoff in the 1940s. As a junior faculty member at this same institution, he was in direct contact with the Abstract Expressionists Clyfford Still and Mark Rothko, who both taught at the school in 1947. After graduate study in New Mexico and teaching experi ence in Illinois, Diebenkorn chose to settle in Berkeley in 1953, where he began an extended period of concentrated painting. The lush terrain of the Bay Area with its verdant color and intense light exerted itself on the artist, and he subsequently brought both strong color and representation back into his painting. He renewed his contact with Park and Bischoff dur ing this period and began to paint figure studies, finding the analysis of the figure to be an immensely satisfying problem. He was greatly interested in the working of paint onto and about the canvas, creating activated, expressive surfaces. In 1955, at the same time Diebenkorn worked on his famed Berkeley Series of abstracted landscapes, he began to paint still lifes, many of which are small and intended for intimate view ing. He arranged cups, books, and flowers on a table and stud ied them by reworking the paint. With their pure color and lively surfaces, these canvases became emotionally charged, as Diebenkorn intended. He felt that by surviving his many reworkings of the paint, such familiar items evolved into per sonal disclosures.