Audiences today generally know Richard Diebenkorn’s career in terms of three major evolutions: the Sausalito, Albuquerque, Urbana, and “early Berkeley” periods of Abstract Expressionism (1947–1955); the Berkeley figurative/representational period (1955–1966); and the Ocean Park (1967–1988) and Healdsburg (1988–1992) series of abstractions. Yet Diebenkorn’s earliest paintings and drawings remain little known.
This exhibition focuses on Diebenkorn’s evolution to maturity. It features 100 paintings and drawings, nearly all from the collection of the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation, that precede his shift to figuration. These early pieces evolved rapidly from representational landscape scenes and portraits of military colleagues, to semiabstract and Surrealist-inspired depictions of topography and the human form, to the artist’s mature Abstract Expressionist paintings. Many of these pieces will be unfamiliar to the public, yet they offer a fuller picture of Diebenkorn’s precocious achievements and set the stage for what was yet to come.