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November 1, 2011


Filed under: richard diebenkorn — Tags: — jherzlinger @ 1:19 pm

I was in San Francisco for a couple of days the other week and ran into the Museum of Modern Art, which is one of my favorites in the Country!  I have always been enamored with the California School of Abstract Expressionism and I thought I would bring you one of my favorite artists.

I have written a brief description of what abstract expressionism is and I hope that helps.  It sounds complicated, but in art. For me, the history lesson of the time period is what is so fascinating, like to know why the artists felt they needed this type of expression, I guess the same can be said of literature.

Abstract expressionism arose during World War II and began to be showcased during the early forties at galleries in New York . The McCarthy era after World War II was a time of artistic censorship in the United States, but if the subject matter were totally abstract then it

would be seen as apolitical, and therefore safe.

Richard Diebenkorn was an American painter who came to define the California school of Abstract Expressionism of 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.

The work of Richard Diebenkorn was very important in the Abstract Expressionist movement in California in the 1950s because he provided a touchstone for other artists who were interested in the movement but not directly involved in the New York School.

Diebenkorn’s earliest paintings reflect his interest in Hopper’s style, as they depict realistic American scenes with stark contrasts between shadow and light. Although his early work is predominantly figural (that is, portraying real imagery rather than abstract forms), Diebenkorn transitioned

between representational and abstract

work throughout his career – a seeming indecisiveness that would come to characterize his artistic personality. However, this spoke more to his keen interest in exploring all manners of art-making than to a deep vacillation.

Along with the friends he had made at various teaching positions, including David Park, Diebenkorn became a central member of the Bay Area Figurative Movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which rejected Abstract Expressionism in favor of a return to figural representation. Apparently, the freedom of gesture and composition in

his Abstract Expressionist period was ultimately not to his liking.

Richard Diebenkorn achieved a rare feat in the life of an artist, which is to approach painting from many different angles and to take earnest inspiration from other artists while maintaining originality. Although Diebenkorn did not reach the level of fame of Abstract Expressionists of the New York School, his influence on artists

of the latter half of the twentieth century is undeniable.




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