Richard Diebenkorn (American, born April 22, 1922–died March 30, 1993) was a versatile 20th-century American painter. Born in Portland, OR, Diebenkorn grew up in San Francisco, where he attended Stanford University. Diebenkorn lived in several other locations around the United States before he returned to California, where he continued to produce his mature paintings. After two years of service in the United States Marine Corps, Diebenkorn studied at the University of New Mexico under the GI Bill, and was immersed in Abstract Expressionism, inspired by the New York School of artists.
Diebenkorn’s focus shifted, however, in the 1950s, when he began to produce figurative paintings associated with the Bay Area Figurative Movement. Inspired by the work of Henri Matisse, Diebenkorn drew on his bright Californian surroundings to create images defined by planes of carefully chosen colors. After a decade and a half of painting figuratively, in 1967, Diebenkorn returned to abstraction, with a new geometric style different from his early Abstract Expressionist-inspired efforts. This is evident in his famous Ocean Park cycle, which he developed into 140 paintings from 1967 until his death in 1993.
Museum exhibitions include: The Drawings of Richard Diebenkorn, organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; traveled to San Francisco Museum of Art and The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. (1988–89). Blue Surround, Evolution of Print, M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (1994). Major traveling retrospective: The Art of Richard Diebenkorn, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; traveled to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1997–98). Clubs and Spades, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (2002). The Ocean Park Series, Modern Art Museum of Forth Worth; traveled to the Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (2011–12). The Berkeley Years, 1953–1966, M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco; traveled to the Palm Springs Art Museum (2013–14). Richard Diebenkorn, Royal Academy of Arts, London (2015). Richard Diebenkorn: The Sketchbooks Revealed, Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University (2015-16).