Richard Diebenkorn, singular and distinguished American painter, draftsman, and printmaker who successfully explored both abstract and figurative painting, was born in Portland, Oregon in 1922. He attended Stanford University from 1940 to 1943 and was awarded his Bachelor of Arts in 1949. He studied at the University of California, Berkeley in 1943 and attended California School of Fine Arts in 1946. He received his Master of Arts from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque in 1951.
Diebenkorn’s earliest abstractions were made while the artist lived in Sausalito, California (1946–1949), Albuquerque (1950–1952) and Urbana, Illinois (1952–1953). In 1953 he moved to Berkeley, continuing his work in abstraction. The year 1955 marks the beginning of a period of 11 years when the artist worked from direct observation making figurative works from a model, along with still lifes, landscapes, and interiors. From 1966 to 1988 he lived in Santa Monica, taught at the University of California, Los Angeles from 1966 to 1973, and began his epic Ocean Park cycle in 1967. He moved to Healdsburg, California in 1988 where he worked exclusively on works on paper until his death in 1993.
His distinguished career has been the subject of numerous monographic museum presentations, such as The Drawings of Richard Diebenkorn (1988–1989), organized by The Museum of Modern Art, New York; traveled to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Richard Diebenkorn: Blue Surround; Evolution of a Print (1994), M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, San Francisco. The Art of Richard Diebenkorn (1997–1998), organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; traveled to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Richard Diebenkorn: Clubs and Spades (2002), California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series (2011–2012), jointly organized by the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and the Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California; traveled to Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Richard Diebenkorn: The Berkeley Years, 1953–1966 (2013–2014), organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco with the Palm Springs Art Museum. Richard Diebenkorn (2015), Royal Academy of Arts, London.
Recent and significant exhibitions have included Richard Diebenkorn: The Sketchbooks Revealed (2015–2016), Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University; Matisse/Diebenkorn (2016–2017), organized by the Baltimore Museum of Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955 (2017–2019), organized by the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation in Berkeley in conjunction with the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento; traveled to the David Owsley Museum of Art, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana; Portland Art Museum, Oregon; Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art, Pepperdine University, Malibu, California; and Academy Art Museum, Easton, Maryland.
The artist was the recipient of many prestigious awards and honors. He was selected as the U.S. representative, along with photographer Harry Callahan, of the 38th Venice Biennale in 1978. He received the Edward MacDowell Medal from the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire in 1978; the Skowhegan Medal for Painting from the Skowhegan School of Painting in Maine in 1979; elected an honorary academician of the Royal Academy of Art, London in 1992; received the National Medal of Arts in 1993; and received the American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Painting, its highest honor, in 1994.
In 2016, the artist was the subject of Richard Diebenkorn: The Catalogue Raisonné (Yale University Press), the definitive resource of the artist’s sketches; drawings; paintings on paper, board, canvas; and sculptural objects.
The artist has been represented exclusively by Van Doren Waxter since 1999.