Richard Diebenkorn at Orange County Museum of Art

Pick of the Week for May 3rd, 2012

There are three weeks left to visit Newport Beach and bask in the multifarious light of Richard Diebenkorn. The Venue is the Orange County Museum of Art. The exhibition is a remarkable concentration of the artist’s Ocean Park series. The opportunity is not to be missed.

Richard Diebenkorn Ocean Park #43, 1971 Oil and charcoal on canvas 93 x 81 in. (236.2 x 205.7 cm) Collection of Gretchen and John Berggruen, San Francisco ©The Estate of Richard Diebenkorn Image courtesy the Estate of Richard Diebenkorn

There are multitude of reasons to love the show. At 75 paintings, drawings and prints, the scale of exhibition is pitch perfect. It conveys the vast and dedicated focus of Diebenkorn’s investigation over 26 years of his career. Unlike the lockstep memes created by most major institutions when mounting significant retrospectives, the Orange County exhibit allows the viewer to enter the exhibit through three doors. Each self created trajectory offers a different narrative, none of which is better than the other. Trajectories can be chronological or by medium or scale but the upshot is to offer insights to the endless variations on a theme.

Richard Diebenkorn Ocean Park #79, 1975 Oil on canvas 93 x 81 in. (236.2 x 205.7 cm) Philadelphia Museum of Art, Purchased with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and with funds contributed by private donors, 1977 ©The Estate of Richard Diebenkorn Image courtesy the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Diebenkorn’s masterful handling of paint is in evidence everywhere. Pinks are suffused with orange under painting and chalky blues are interrupted by glossy crimsons. Drawing and painting also co-exist on the picture plane in a harmony rarely evidenced in modern painting. Similarly line gives way to form, outline acquiesces to volume and figure & ground damn near boogie on every canvas.

Richard Diebenkorn Ocean Park #105, 1978 Oil and charcoal on canvas 100 1/8 x 93 1/8 in. (254.3 x 236.5 cm) Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Museum purchase, Sid W. Richardson Foundation Endowment Fund and The Burnett Foundation ©The Estate of Richard Diebenkorn Image courtesy the Estate of Richard Diebenkorn

Lastly it must be said that Dienbenkorn is the ultimate iconoclast for he forged a picture plane with such immense compositional rigor while never alienating the viewer’s need for optical pleasure. In this bit of heroic prestidigitation, he proves that there is a both/and paradigm to the pursuits of contemporary image making.

Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series continues at the Orange County Museum of Art through May 27th, 2012. The exhibition will make its final stop at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. where it opens on June 30th, 2012

-Mario M. Muller, Los Angeles, April 30th, 2012


also by Mario M. Muller

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