Diebenkorn, Richard

Diebenkorn, Richard,

1922–93, American painter, b. Portland, Oreg. Raised in California, he studied at Stanford and at a collector's home encountered (1943) the work of MatisseMatisse, Henri
, 1869–1954, French painter, sculptor, and lithographer. Along with Picasso, Matisse is considered one of the two foremost artists of the modern period. His contribution to 20th-century art is inestimably great.
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, whose bold use of color and brushstrokes profoundly influenced him. Diebenkorn also studied and taught during the 1940s at the California School of Fine Arts, where the abstract painters Clyfford StillStill, Clyfford,
1904–80, American painter, b. Grandin, N.Dak. A brilliant painter, he was one of the founders of abstract expressionism, although never one of the style's best-known practitioners. The reclusive Still was a pioneer in the use of the mural-sized canvas.
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 and Mark RothkoRothko, Mark
, 1903–70, American painter, b. Dvinsk, Russia (now Daugavpils, Latvia), as Marcus Rotkovitch. His family immigrated to the United States in 1913. He was a student of Max Weber, then came under the influence of the surrealists.
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 were influences as well on his approach to color and composition. He turned away from abstraction in the 1950s, developing a style that continued to use the dramatic forms and vivid colors of abstract expressionismabstract expressionism,
movement of abstract painting that emerged in New York City during the mid-1940s and attained singular prominence in American art in the following decade; also called action painting and the New York school.
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 while portraying recognizable subjects—landscapes, portraits, interiors, and still lifes. Diebenkorn and David Park, Elmer Bischoff, Joan Brown, and other San Francisco Bay artists became recognized as a California school of figurative painting. In 1966 he moved from Berkeley to Santa Monica and taught at UCLA. From 1967 to 1988, Diebenkorn created his best-known paintings, the lyrical Ocean Park series, serenely geometric, color-saturated works in which landscape elements are only barely discernible.


See biography by G. Nordland (1987, repr. 1996); study by J. Livingston (1997); The Ocean Park Series (museum catalog, 2011).

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Diebenkorn, Richard (Clifford, Jr.)

(1922–93) painter; born in Portland, Ore. He studied at the University of California (1940–43), taught at the California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco (1947–50), and lived in California from 1952. Influenced by Willem de Kooning, he began as an abstract painter and, later, became more representational, as in Man and Woman in Large Room (1957).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.