Installation View, Richard Diebenkorn: Ocean Park Series at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
An essay on the achievements of Richard Diebenkorn, republished by Mario Naves on the occasion of the exhibition the exhibition Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series, on view at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. through September 23, 2012.
Naves writes: "Matisse is the crucial source for the Ocean Park pictures. Not a few observers, after visiting the Matisse in Morocco exhibition at MOMA in 1990, remarked upon the similarity of the backdrop for Zorah on the Terrace (1912) to Diebenkorn's paintings. It is a not adventitious historical rhyme, as Diebenkorn would have been the first to admit. Yet to claim that he did little more than finesse (and fret over) Matisse for almost thirty years is to mistake a profound engagement with tradition for accomplished hackwork. With their pensive harmonies and stoic elegance, the Ocean Park paintings divulge their antecedents without reiterating them... Diebenkorn knew that the hurdle of tradition is not to recapitulate history, but to make tradition speak in a form that is as individual as it is contemporary. He also knew when it needed prodding. By transmuting his forebears into something personal and fresh, Diebenkorn claimed his status as an unapologetic modernist."
Tyler Green talks to curator Sarah Bancroft and conservator Ana Alba about the exhibition Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series, on view at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. from June 30 - September 23, 2012.
Bancroft notes that the Corcoran exhibit includes both Ocean Park #6 and Ocean Park #11, the "earliest paintings in the series, the first five were destroyed or put away…[by the artist]... they're both much more biomorphic and organic… they have a stronger relationship to his figurative work."
Bancroft also discusses an interesting commission Diebenkorn completed: documenting water reclammation projects in Arizona. She notes that "[Diebenkorn] often commented about the idea of process in the land, and seeing this history of what had happened, whether it be tilling or scarring or working the land, and he wanted to get that idea into his work… the history of the making of the painting is the painting. It's that idea of topography, of process… rather than obliterating the history of his compositional expression over time, allowing you to really see it…"
Matthew Ballou looks at Richard Diebenkorn's Ocean Park paintings through the lens of "provisional painting."
Ballou writes that "To get a clear view of Diebenkorn's connection with provisionality one must think about the sense of compositional balance exemplified in the Ocean Park Series. It is a balance that is hard-won yet still teetering on the edge of disarray. Though the works are in some ways locked, they flicker and undulate; these are compositions that don’t always feel as if rightness was absolutely achieved."
Gibbons writes: "The interplay of cultivation and erasure that [Dibenkorn] discerned from his bird's-eye perch offers one way to grasp Diebenkorn's later abstractions, which often evoke the sensation of being suspended from a great height, gazing down into a parceled landscape or landscape analogue. Inviting yet austere, these spacious canvases suggest the earth’s palimpsest when seen from above: flat and smoothed out, but layered with spectral traces of what’s been worn down, scraped away, superseded but not yet obliterated."
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.