About Richard Diebenkorn

Born in Portland, Oregon in 1922, Richard Diebenkorn moved with his family to San Francisco in 1924. After briefly attending Stanford University from 1940 to 1942, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, during which time he visited museums on the East Coast and made many sketches. Afterwards, in 1946, he enrolled in the California School of Fine Arts, but quickly received a fellowship to study painting in New York for a year. When he returned to San Francisco in 1947, he became a faculty member at the California School of Fine Arts, and the following year received his first solo exhibition at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. He went on to receive an M.F.A. from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque in 1951. Throughout the 1940s and early 1950s, Diebenkorn’s paintings, drawings, and prints contained a distinctive abstract vocabulary of forms stylistically rooted in the New York School. However, in 1955, he and a number of other Bay Area artists shifted from abstraction to a more representational mode, forming what is known as the Bay Area Figurative School. In 1966, Diebenkorn accepted a teaching position at UCLA and moved to Santa Monica. Soon after beginning work in his first Southern California studio, located in a neighborhood near the beach known as Ocean Park, he began his renowned Ocean Park series. He received great acclaim for these large, brilliantly colored paintings and drawings. Diebenkorn continued to explore color in other media, creating his first prints using color in 1980 at Crown Point Press, San Francisco, where he had worked regularly since 1962. Diebenkorn had his first show at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco 1948. His work can be found in significant museum collections, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Museum of Modern Art in New York, National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Diebenkorn represented the United States in the 34th and 38th Venice Biennale. He was also the recipient of the 1991 National Medal of Arts. Diebenkorn died March 30, 1993 in Berkeley, California.