Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942-1955
Scott A. Shields
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 catalogue, compiled to accompany a traveling exhibition of the same name, focuses on Diebenkorn’s evolution to maturity. It features nearly two hundred paintings and drawings, many 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.