Diebenkorn, Richard

Diebenkorn, Richard, 1922–93, American painter, b. Portland, Oreg. Raised in California, he studied at Stanford and at a collector's home encountered (1943) the work of Matisse, whose bold use of color and brushstrokes profoundly influenced him. Diebenkorn also studied and taught during the 1940s at the California School of Fine Arts, where the abstract painters Clyfford Still and Mark Rothko were influences as well on his approach to color and composition. He turned away from abstraction in the 1950s, developing a style that continued to use the dramatic forms and vivid colors of abstract expressionism while portraying recognizable subjects—landscapes, portraits, interiors, and still lifes. Diebenkorn and David Park, Elmer Bischoff, Joan Brown, and other San Francisco Bay artists became recognized as a California school of figurative painting. In 1966 he moved from Berkeley to Santa Monica and taught at UCLA. From 1967 to 1988, Diebenkorn created his best-known paintings, the lyrical Ocean Park series, serenely geometric, color-saturated works in which landscape elements are only barely discernible.

See biography by G. Nordland (1987, repr. 1996); study by J. Livingston (1997); The Ocean Park Series (museum catalog, 2011).

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