Richard Diebenkorn, Untitled (Albuquerque), 1952. Oil on canvas, 55 7/8 x 43 in. (141.9 x 109.2 cm). © Richard Diebenkorn Foundation
Richard Diebenkorn, Untitled (Albuquerque), 1952. Oil on canvas, 55 7/8 x 43 in. (141.9 x 109.2 cm). © Richard Diebenkorn Foundation
Richard Diebenkorn, Untitled, 1945. Watercolor and ink on paper, 9 x 11 7/8 in. (22.9 x 30.2 cm). © Richard Diebenkorn Foundation.
Richard Diebenkorn, Untitled, 1945. Watercolor and ink on paper, 9 x 11 7/8 in. (22.9 x 30.2 cm). © Richard Diebenkorn Foundation.
Richard Diebenkorn, Untitled (Horse and Rider), 1954. Oil on canvas, 21 x 24 in. (53.3 x 61 cm). © Richard Diebenkorn Foundation
Richard Diebenkorn, Untitled (Horse and Rider), 1954. Oil on canvas, 21 x 24 in. (53.3 x 61 cm). © Richard Diebenkorn Foundation

Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955

JUN 16 – SEP 23, 2018

Featuring 100 paintings and drawings from the collection of the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation, Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955 traces the Portland-born artist’s evolution from representational landscape, to Surrealist-inspired work, to his Abstract Expressionist paintings. Best known for his Ocean Park series begun in the second half of the 1960s, Diebenkorn was a prodigiously talented young painter. This exhibition brings together seldom seen works to illustrate the breadth and depth of this preeminent American artist’s early years.Beginnings is the first exhibition to focus solely on the work Diebenkorn made prior to his decisive turn to figuration in the late 1950s. In addition to considering his early thematic and stylistic evolution, the exhibition also examines Diebenkorn’s technical origins in oil, watercolor, gouache, ink, crayon, and collage. The chronological focus demonstrates the environments and individuals that influenced him, beginning with his years as a student and his time in the Marines, through his early professional years in Sausalito, California, and his academic positions in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Urbana, Illinois, before his return to the Bay Area.

A landmark contribution to the study and understanding of Diebenkorn’s work, Beginnings and its companion catalog reveal the forces that shaped the young artist, including works that range from World War II drawings and watercolors of soldiers, to abstractions that unite the forms of Surrealism and the fractured planes of Cubism, to gestural works on paper. The exhibition concludes with one of the artist’s first mature figurative paintings, his 1954 Untitled (Horse and Rider), laying the foundation for the representational drawings and paintings for which Diebenkorn earned wide renown.

Diebenkorn once remarked, “I think what one is about now has intimately to do with what one did yesterday, ten years ago, thirty years ago. Just as you can continue that progression, what somebody else did, forty years earlier, a hundred years earlier, I think that’s what one as an artist probably is.” This sentiment brackets the circuitous evolution that is clearly felt in the exhibition. In works made during the 13-year span covered in Beginnings, viewers will see how deftly Diebenkorn learned from a broad range of influences—from the social realism of Edward Hopper to the cubism of Georges Braque—adapting line, color, form, or process selectively as he developed his own artistic voice.

Exposure to ideas, artworks, and other artists was catalytic for Diebenkorn, whether he was visiting East Coast museums during his military service or wrestling with the non-referential, pure abstraction of Abstract Expressionist artists like Clyfford Still. The elder Still was a looming figure in Diebenkorn’s circle after World War II, and like others, the younger artist labored to differentiate his work from Still’s example. At this moment, Diebenkorn found a touchstone in the decorative color and calligraphic line of Henri Matisse, and his formal and intellectual engagement with the French artist’s work would continue throughout his career. Like Matisse, Diebenkorn never fully strayed from referencing the landscape and the figure in his work. When he returned to Berkeley in 1953 he embraced this predilection and reconnected with the nascent Bay Area figuration scene. As he recalled, “For someone who was intending to continue as an abstract painter, I was clearly consorting with the wrong company.”

Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955 is accompanied by a catalog by curator Scott Shields, Ph.D., Associate Director and Chief Curator at the Crocker Art Museum, which co-organized the exhibition. Dr. Shields will deliver a lecture on September 8.

Organized by the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation in conjunction with the Crocker Art Museum. Curated in Portland by Sara Krajewski, The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Jun
19
Tue
Public Tour: Diebenkorn
Jun 19 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Public Tour: Diebenkorn

Explore the Museum with a docent skilled in bringing art to life.

Public tours depart from the Park Avenue entrance.

Tours are free for members or with Museum admission, and free for children age 17 and younger.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955.

Jun
20
Wed
Midday Art Break: Richard Diebenkorn
Jun 20 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Midday Art Break: Richard Diebenkorn

Take a break from your workday and join a curator, museum educator, artist, or local scholar for a 45-minute talk in the galleries.

This month, Sara Krajewski, The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, will discuss highlights from the special exhibition Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942-1955.

Space is limited. Advance tickets recommended. Program departs from the Main Entrance Lobby.

Purchase tickets
Jun
24
Sun
Public Tour: Diebenkorn
Jun 24 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Public Tour: Diebenkorn

Explore the Museum with a docent skilled in bringing art to life.

Public tours depart from the Park Avenue entrance.

Tours are free for members or with Museum admission, and free for children age 17 and younger.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955.

Jun
30
Sat
Public Tour: Diebenkorn
Jun 30 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Public Tour: Diebenkorn

Explore the Museum with a docent skilled in bringing art to life.

Public tours depart from the Park Avenue entrance.

Tours are free for members or with Museum admission, and free for children age 17 and younger.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955.

Jul
5
Thu
Public Tour: Diebenkorn
Jul 5 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Public Tour: Diebenkorn

Explore the Museum with a docent skilled in bringing art to life.

Public tours depart from the Park Avenue entrance.

Tours are free for members or with Museum admission, and free for children age 17 and younger.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955.

Jul
17
Tue
Public Tour: Diebenkorn
Jul 17 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Public Tour: Diebenkorn

Explore the Museum with a docent skilled in bringing art to life.

Public tours depart from the Park Avenue entrance.

Tours are free for members or with Museum admission, and free for children age 17 and younger.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955.

Jul
21
Sat
Public Tour: Diebenkorn
Jul 21 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Public Tour: Diebenkorn

Explore the Museum with a docent skilled in bringing art to life.

Public tours depart from the Park Avenue entrance.

Tours are free for members or with Museum admission, and free for children age 17 and younger.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955.

Aug
2
Thu
Public Tour: Diebenkorn
Aug 2 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Public Tour: Diebenkorn

Explore the Museum with a docent skilled in bringing art to life.

Public tours depart from the Park Avenue entrance.

Tours are free for members or with Museum admission, and free for children age 17 and younger.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955.

Aug
12
Sun
Public Tour: Diebenkorn
Aug 12 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Public Tour: Diebenkorn

Explore the Museum with a docent skilled in bringing art to life.

Public tours depart from the Park Avenue entrance.

Tours are free for members or with Museum admission, and free for children age 17 and younger.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955.

Aug
19
Sun
Public Tour: Diebenkorn
Aug 19 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Public Tour: Diebenkorn

Explore the Museum with a docent skilled in bringing art to life.

Public tours depart from the Park Avenue entrance.

Tours are free for members or with Museum admission, and free for children age 17 and younger.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955.

Aug
28
Tue
Public Tour: Diebenkorn
Aug 28 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Public Tour: Diebenkorn

Explore the Museum with a docent skilled in bringing art to life.

Public tours depart from the Park Avenue entrance.

Tours are free for members or with Museum admission, and free for children age 17 and younger.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955.

Sep
6
Thu
Baby Morning: Diebenkorn
Sep 6 @ 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Baby Morning: Diebenkorn

We welcome babies and their caregivers for tea beginning at 10 a.m. The first tour will begin at roughly 10:30 a.m. or when we have a large enough group ready to go. The second tour will begin 45 minutes later, or when a second group is ready. No need to be “on time” for this informal program. Baby Morning’s home base remains open until 12:30 p.m. with toys, games, and books, providing a welcoming, accommodating space free of worries. Caregivers are also welcome to leave belongings here while on the tour. Carriers are recommended while in the galleries, but not required.

 Purchase tickets

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955.

Sep
8
Sat
Lecture: Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955
Sep 8 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Lecture: Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955

Scott A. Shields, Ph.D., Associate Director and Chief Curator, Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento

Exhibition curator and catalog author Scott A. Shields focuses on Richard Diebenkorn’s evolution to maturity and the art that precedes his shift to figuration. These early pieces evolved rapidly from representational landscape scenes and portraits of military colleagues, to semi-abstract and Surrealist-inspired depictions of topography and the human form, to mature Abstract Expressionist paintings. Many works will be unfamiliar to the public, yet they offer a fuller picture of the Portland-born artist’s precocious achievements and set the stage for what was yet to come.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955.

Purchase tickets
Public Tour: Diebenkorn
Sep 8 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Public Tour: Diebenkorn

Explore the Museum with a docent skilled in bringing art to life.

Public tours depart from the Park Avenue entrance.

Tours are free for members or with Museum admission, and free for children age 17 and younger.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955.

Sep
15
Sat
Public Tour: Diebenkorn
Sep 15 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Public Tour: Diebenkorn

Explore the Museum with a docent skilled in bringing art to life.

Public tours depart from the Park Avenue entrance.

Tours are free for members or with Museum admission, and free for children age 17 and younger.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955.

Sep
23
Sun
Public Tour: Diebenkorn
Sep 23 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Public Tour: Diebenkorn

Explore the Museum with a docent skilled in bringing art to life.

Public tours depart from the Park Avenue entrance.

Tours are free for members or with Museum admission, and free for children age 17 and younger.

Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955.

Sponsors

Nani S. Warren / The Swigert Warren Foundation; Ed Cauduro Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation; Wolf Kahn and Emily Mason Foundation; Exhibition Series Sponsors.