Richard Diebenkorn (American, 1922–1993) was a versatile 20th century American painter. Born in Portland, Oregon, Diebenkorn grew up in San Francisco, where he attended Stanford University. Diebenkorn lived in several other locations around the United States before he returned to California, where he continued to produce his mature paintings. After two years of service in the United States Marine Corps, Diebenkorn studied at the University of New Mexico under the GI Bill and was immersed in Abstract Expressionism, inspired by New York School Artists. Diebenkorn’s focus shifted, however, in the 1950s, when he began to produce Figurative paintings associated with the Bay Area Figurative Movement. Inspired by the work of Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954), Diebenkorn drew on his bright Californian surroundings to create images defined by planes of carefully chosen color. After a decade and a half of painting figuratively, in 1967 Diebenkorn returned to abstraction, with a new geometric style different from his early Abstract Expressionist-inspired efforts. This is evident in his famous Ocean Park cycle, which he developed into 140 paintings from 1967 until his death in 1993.

Timeline

1922
Born in Portland, OR
1924
Family moved to San Francisco Bay Area.
1940
Attended Stanford University, Stanford, CA
1943
Studied at University of California, Berkeley, CA
1943–1945
Served in the U. S. Marine Corps.
1946
California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA
1949
BA, Stanford University, Stanford, CA
1947–1950
Lived in Sausalito, CA and taught at California School of Fine Arts.
1950–1951
MFA, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
1953
Began Berkeley series of abstract expressionist paintings.
1955
Began still lifes, then landscapes as a prelude to figurative paintings.
1955–1959
Taught at California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, CA.
1959–1963
Taught at San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA
1967
Began Ocean Park series.
1966–1973
Lived in Santa Monica and taught at University of California, Los Angeles, CA
1992
Elected to The Royal Academy, London, UK
1993
Died in Berkeley, CA

Exhibitions

2013
Yes, No, Maybe, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
2013
Ab-ex / Re-con: Abstract Expressionism Reconsidered, Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn Harbor, NY
2013
Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, CA
2013
New Voices, Gallery Bergelli, Larkspur, CA
2013
The Intimate Diebenkorn: Drawings 1949- 1992 (solo). Organized with the College of Marin and circulated by the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation Curated by Chester Arnold
Traveled to:
the Fine Arts Gallery, College of Marin, Kentfield, CA
Natalie & James Thompson Art Gallery, San Jose Sate University, San Jose, CA
Katzen Arts Center, American University, Washington D.C
Sanoma Valley Museum of Art, Sonoma, CA
Montana Museum of Art & Culture, The University of Montana, Missoula, MT
2013
Richard Diebenkorn: The Berkeley Years, 1053-1966 (solo), Organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the Palm Springs Art Museum, Curated by Timothy Anglin Burgard and Steven Nash
Traveled to:
M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, CA
Palm Springs Art Museum
2012
Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series.
Traveled to:
Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
2012
Richard Diebenkorn: Prints 1961-1992, Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York City, NY
2011–2012
The Ocean Park Series (solo),
Traveled to:
Modern Art Museum of Forth Worth, Fort Worth, TX
Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
2010
Richard Diebenkorn: Paintings and Drawings 1949-1955, Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York, NY (catalogue)
2010
Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA
2009
Influences of Nature on Abstraction, Tayloe Piggott Gallery, Jackson, WY
2008
Diebenkorn in New Mexico, Grey Art Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
2007
Diebenkorn in New Mexico: 1950-1952, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA (solo)
The Female Form, Thomas Gibson Fine Art Ltd, London, UK (solo)
2006
Paintings and Drawings on Paper, Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Richard Diebenkorn, Pasadena Museum of california Art- PMCA, Pasadena, CA
2004
Richard Diebenkorn: Prints 1948 - 1993, Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, NY (solo)
Picasso to Thiebaud: Modern and Contemporary Art from the Collections of Stanford University Alumni and Friends, Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University, CA (solo)
Richard Diebenkorn Works on Paper: Ocean Park, Clubs and Spades, Artemis Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
2003
RIchard Diebenkorn, John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2002
Clubs and Spades, The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California Palace Legion of Honors, San Francisco, CA (solo)
Figurative Drawings, Gouaches, and Oil Paintings, Artemis Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
2000
Early Abstractions, Lawrence Rubin Greenberg Van Doren Fine Art, New York, NY (solo)
1999
Ocean Park Paintings, Lawrence Rubin Greenberg Van Doren Fine Art, New York, NY (solo)
From Nature to Abstraction, Campbell-Thiebaud Gallery, San Francisco, CA (solo)
1998
The Ocean Park Series: A Selection of Original Prints, John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, CA (solo)
1997–1998
Richard Diebenkorn, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX; The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA (solo)
1996
Figure Drawings, Acquavella Contemporary Art, New York, NY (solo)
1995
Abstractions, Galerie Lawrence Rubin, Zürich, Switzerland (solo)
1994
Blue Surround: Evolution of a Print, M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, CA (solo)
1992
Richard Diebenkorn, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (solo)
1989
The Drawings of Richard Diebenkorn, Phillips Collection, Washington, DC (solo)
1988
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (solo)
1976–1977
Retrospective, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY (solo)
1967
California Arts Festival. Lytton Center of the Visual Arts, Los Angeles, CA
1964
Six Americans. Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, AR
1960–1961
The Figure in Contemporary American Painting, American Federation of Arts, New York, NY ; Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, Mo., Hollins College; Hollins, VA ; State University of New York, Oswego, N.Y.; Coe College, Cedar Rapids, IA; Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe, NM
1959
Aspects of Representation in Contemporary Art, William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art, Kansas City, MO
New Imagery in American Painting, Art Center Gallery, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
1958
Recent Paintings: Richard Diebenkorn, Poindexter Gallery, New York, NY
Contemporary Bay Area Figurative Paintings, Oakland Art Museum.Oakland, CA
1957
Los Angeles County Museum, Los Angeles, CA
1955
Three Young Americans, Oberlin, OH
1948
California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA (solo)

Public Collections

Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA
Brooklyn Museum, New York, NY
Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH

Literature

2006
Richard Diebenkorn: Paintings and Drawings on Paper. Milan, Italy: Galleria Lawrence Rubin, 2006 (catalogue)
2004
Starr Figura. Richard Diebenkorn: Prints 1948-1993. New York, NY: Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, NY, 2004 (catalogue)
1999
Stephen Nash. Richard Diebenkorn: From Nature to Abstraction. San Francisco, CA: Campbell-Thiebaud Gallery, 1999 (catalogue)