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Artists Richard Diebenkorn
Richard Diebenkorn Photo

Richard Diebenkorn

American Painter

Movement: Abstract Expressionism

Born: April 22, 1922 - Portland, Oregon

Died: March 20, 1993 - Berkeley, California

Richard Diebenkorn Timeline

Quotes

"It wasn't art that I was interested in; it was drawing and painting.. I had no real understanding of drawing and painting as art."
Richard Diebenkorn
"I'm really a traditional painter, not avant-garde at all. I wanted to follow a tradition and extend it."
Richard Diebenkorn
"I'm very old-fashioned. Though I'm interested in most of the new art, painting remains for me a very physical thing, an involvement with a tangible feeling of sensation."
Richard Diebenkorn
"The pretty, initial position which falls short of completeness is not to be valued - except as a stimulus for further moves."
Richard Diebenkorn
"All paintings start out of a mood, out of a relationship with things or people, out of a complete visual impression."
Richard Diebenkorn

"I'm really a traditional painter, not avant-garde at all. I wanted to follow a tradition and extend it."

Richard Diebenkorn Signature

Synopsis

Question: what would an artist have to do to become famous and significant without being involved in the New York art world? Answer: paint like Richard Diebenkorn, the American painter who, through his seductive colors and surfaces and exquisite sense of balance between planes - and between figuration and abstraction - came to define the California school of Abstract Expressionism during the early 1950s. Although he moved back and forth between making abstract and figural paintings throughout his career, his version of Abstract Expressionism became an important counterpart to the more well-known brand of the movement popularized by such New York artists as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. During the 1950s through the 1960s he was noted for developing a unique form of Northern California realism, now referred to as the Bay Area Figurative School.

Key Ideas

Although Richard Diebenkorn was a great student and teacher of art, he did not, in the end, contribute in any revolutionary way to the narrative of art history. However, it is significant that he was a contemporary artist who could successfully combine such diverse influences as Abstract Expressionism, Color Field Painting, and the whole history of European "belle peinture" ("beautiful painting").
The truth is that Diebenkorn, in addition to being a more private than public individual and not self-aggrandizing, was fundamentally a West Coast artist - influenced by his New Mexico and California environments. These personal traits also found expression in his ability to create a kind of humanized abstraction, either through the direct use of the human figure within an abstracted setting or through the delicacy and personal expressivity of the touch of his brush.
One of the most significant and unusual features of his art was the fluidity with which he could change styles between abstraction and figuration, observing the structure and order both in nature and on the canvas. His works exquisitely reconcile his perception of the natural environment with his conception of the created entity on the canvas.

Biography

Richard Diebenkorn Photo

Childhood

Two years after Richard Diebenkorn was born in Portland, Oregon, on April 22, 1922, his family relocated to San Francisco. Although his parents were not particularly supportive of his interest in the arts, Diebenkorn found encouragement from his grandmother, a poet, painter, and civil rights lawyer, who fostered his visual imagination by giving him illustrated books, taking him to local galleries, and impressing upon him a love for European heraldic imagery. Diebenkorn disappointed his father by choosing to study art and art history rather than the more pragmatic pursuits of law or medicine at Stanford University, where he began his undergraduate studies in 1940. Daniel Mendelowitz, one of his art history professors and mentors, introduced the aspiring painter to the work of modernists such as Edward Hopper, whose works would prove formative to Diebenkorn's early artistic development. Mendelowitz also took the artist to visit the home of Sarah Stein, sister-in-law of Gertrude Stein, where he saw works by Paul C├ęzanne, Pablo Picasso, and Henri Matisse -- modern artists who also inspired Diebenkorn's artistic development.

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Richard Diebenkorn Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Richard Diebenkorn
Interactive chart with Richard Diebenkorn's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Clyfford StillClyfford Still
Arshile GorkyArshile Gorky
Willem de KooningWillem de Kooning
Mark RothkoMark Rothko
Edward HopperEdward Hopper

Personal Contacts

David ParkDavid Park
Daniel MendelowitzDaniel Mendelowitz

Movements

Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism
European Modernist PaintingEuropean Modernist Painting
American Modernist PaintingAmerican Modernist Painting
CubismCubism

Influences on Artist
Richard Diebenkorn
Richard Diebenkorn
Years Worked: 1940 - 1993
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Clyfford StillClyfford Still

Personal Contacts

Clement GreenbergClement Greenberg

Movements

Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism

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Content compiled and written by Kara Fiedorek

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Kara Fiedorek
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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