Featuring nearly two dozen ink and charcoal drawings, Venice Beach’s L.A. Louver Gallery is currently presenting Richard Diebenkorn: Works on Paper 1949-1992, an extensive retrospective tracing the late draughtsman and painter’s fascinating career and monumental aesthetic shifts.
Born in Portland, Oregon, in 1922, Diebenkorn first gained popularity on the San Francisco art scene in the 1950s and ’60s with his vibrantly-hued, De Kooning-esque paintings and drawings. Around this same time, he also began experimenting with monochromatic figuration, as well as the Northern California realism known as the Bay Area Figurative Movement. Diebenkorn continually shifted between all of these radically different styles, as well as Color Field painting and European belle peinture throughout the course of his career.
He never fully committed to one medium, repeatedly alternating between painting and drawing. Diebenkorn saw these vehicles as interconnected, deciding that they should be in conversation with one another. (He would famously take inspiration from nearby pinned-up drawings while painting at his easel.) Due to its simple process, drawing offered Diebenkorn more freedom to explore and play with ideas. He equated this draughtsmanship with extensive observation and thought of it as a way to connect with the most cherished thoughts and notions.
Through this meticulously curated retrospective, guests are able to immerse themselves in the artist’s fluctuating aesthetic passions. His many transitions between abstraction and figuration feel fluid and effortless here. While other artists of his era abandoned figuration early in their careers, Diebenkorn never felt the need to chose a side in this debate. His lack of regard for the seemingly sharp divisions between these opposing styles feels transgressive.
Some of his most exaggerated aesthetic shifts stem from his different places of residence over the years. We can see this clearly in the fluid washes of his 1949 Sausalito paintings on paper, as well as the calligraphic black lines and sand-hued paper used in his early 1950s Albuquerque ink drawings. Following his relocation to Santa Monica in 1967, his oeuvre strongly featured abstraction blended with landscape, as he would often paint and sketch his studio space and rooftop views. Labeled the Ocean Park series, after the artist’s neighborhood, this collection of paintings and drawings, three of which are on display in this exhibition, boasts alluring linear compositions.
Richard Diebenkorn: Works on Paper 1949-1992 walks the viewer through this adored American artist’s ever-changing and engaging career up until his death in 1993. Through the large scope of this presentation, one is allowed a rare glimpse into the evolving themes and styles of this incredibly innovative and prolific creator.
Richard Diebenkorn: Works on Paper 1949-1992
Through November 4, 2017
L.A. Louver Gallery
45 North Venice Blvd
Venice, CA 90291