Richard Diebenkorn

On entering the Diebenkorn exhibition at the RA I realised how much I have missed glorious, unashamed colour in recent exhibitions by Marlene Dumas and Anselm Kiefer.  That isn’t to say I didn’t really enjoy the Kiefer exhibition, I just find that colour, as used by Diebenkorn, Frankenthaler and others from the  Colour-field period, so uplifting after a long winter.

Adrian Searle writing in the Guardian  http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/mar/20/richard-diebenkorn-review-royal-academy-sackler-wing?CMP=EMCARTEML6852

‘Each painting is like a diary of the act of painting.  Diebenkorn became a delicious colourist.’  ‘Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park paintings occupy a sort of hinterland. They’re a beautiful distraction, paintings to lose your way inside. They’re not quite landscapes, not geometric abstractions and not exactly colour-field painting either. They belong to a time and place but have in them times and places all their own. They’re accumulations of incident within a larger scheme of things. You can see Diebenkorn thinking as he paints, getting lost, turning back, wandering off into the fields, finding the larger view.’

Sausalito - Richard Diebenkorn

Sausalito 1948-49

It is the journey, particularly visible in the Ocean Park work, that holds the viewer’s attention.  Lines and form, lost in the mist of time.  A place to stop and stare.

I agree with Searle that the exhibition could have included more work.

Martin Gayford in the Spectator writes ‘Diebenkorn’s first mature works, dating from the early 1950s, have a slightly familiar look to a British eye. It is hard, in the first room of the show, not to find the words ‘St Ives’.  A contemporary of Peter Lanyon and Patrick Heron, working in New Mexico rather than Penwith.’  ‘He made paintings filled with light and space, which also had a certain down-to-earth grittiness. For more than 20 years, from 1966 to ’86, he worked in Ocean Park, a district of southern Santa Monica abutting Venice Beach. This is a sort of Californian Brighton, a seaside town, slightly Bohemian and definitely relaxed.’

‘His art does survive the journey from the West Coast to the Thames, but a little goes a long way and only the best years are really worth savouring.’

Whilst wanting to see more of Diebenkorn’s work, I understand where Gayford is coming from.  The middle room focused on figurative work.   ‘He also produced Matisse-like nudes and a few still lifes — one a nicely angular study of a pair of scissors — but his heart didn’t really seem to be in either genre.’

http://www.spectator.co.uk/arts/exhibitions/9473942/richard-diebenkorn-royal-academy-review-among-the-best-ever-visual-evocations-of-la/

Ocean Park #54

Ocean Park 54 – 1971 http://www.sfmoma.org/explore/collection/artwork/4418

What went unmentioned by the critics were the gems of work painted on cigar boxes, encapsulating the magnificence of the larger works in miniature.

http://www.slowmuse.com/tag/richard-diebenkorn/  (an excellent article on Diebenkorn, not related to the RA exhibition.

These are particularly inspiring for me, as I grapple with the task of scaling up my work.

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