124
124

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE AMERICAN COLLECTOR

Richard Diebenkorn
UNTITLED
Estimate
400,000600,000
LOT SOLD. 485,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
124

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE AMERICAN COLLECTOR

Richard Diebenkorn
UNTITLED
Estimate
400,000600,000
LOT SOLD. 485,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Curated featuring works from the Collection of Joni Gordon of Newspace Gallery

|
New York

Richard Diebenkorn
1922 - 1993
UNTITLED
signed with the artist's initials and dated 80
acrylic and gouache on paper
30 by 22 in. 76.2 by 55.9 cm.
Executed in 1980, this work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné as catalogue no. 4410.
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Provenance

Collection of Raymond and Patsy Nasher, Dallas (acquired in 1980)
John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco
Private Collection (acquired in 1986)
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 2011

Exhibited

New York, M. Knoedler and Co., Richard Diebenkorn: Recent Work, November - December 1980, illustrated on the inside back cover
Los Angeles, Larry Gagosian Gallery, Richard Diebenkorn: Works on Paper, May - June 1982
New York, Barbara Mathes Gallery, Master Drawings in New York, January - February 2011

Literature

John Berggruen, ed., John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, 1986, p. 27, illustrated
Richard Newlin, ed., Richard Diebenkorn: Works on Paper, Houston, 1987, p. 159, illustrated in color

Catalogue Note

First heralded as a premier member of the Bay Area Figurative artists, Richard Diebenkorn’s celebrated Ocean Park series cemented his legacy as a colorist, compositional innovator, and genius within the canon of American abstract art. Begun in 1967 and extending nearly twenty years, the Ocean Park series comprised some 140 canvases and almost 450 works on paper. The unerring focus with which Diebenkorn approached this body of work is reflected in the preponderance of graceful subtleties and eloquent variations produced. Diebenkorn’s drawings were developed as complete and independent works with which to explore the imagery of Ocean Park, and not merely as preparatory studies. In 1987 Richard Newlin published the first comprehensive survey of the drawings from this series. In the introduction Newlin begins: “No more candid account of an artist’s spontaneity and touch, of his intentions and his imaginative resources, appears in the world of art than in his drawings. A drawn line is the most autographic and revealing mark.” In the ethereal and atmospheric Untitled (1980) (lot 124) and the smaller, gem-like Untitled (1981) (lot 123), the full range of Diebenkorn’s prowess is apparent. Considered in relationship to the artist’s earlier figurative work, here, Untitled (1967) (lot 125), Diebenkorn’s superiority as a draftsman is not only evident, it is clear that these early landscapes and nudes are the substance from which the Ocean Park abstractions are distilled.

In 1966 Diebenkorn moved to the Ocean Park section of Santa Monica to take up a teaching position at University of California, Los Angeles, amid an experimental art scene, represented by the L.A. Pop of Ed Ruscha, the light and space movement of Robert Irwin and the conceptual work of John Baldessari. Diebenkorn reveled in the sense of freedom he encountered, but he ultimately worked in the solitude of his studio and pursued his own innate impulses, grounded in his knowledge and experience in pure modernist abstraction. A few months after his arrival in the neighborhood, he moved from a windowless studio into the larger studio formerly occupied by the painter Sam Francis, just as his aesthetic focus shifted irrevocably from the figurative to the abstract. That same year, Diebenkorn visited the Henri Matisse retrospective at UCLA. Having first become familiar with the great French colorist during his time as an undergraduate at Stanford, the 1966 retrospective was arguably the catalyst behind Diebenkorn’s aesthetic breakthrough. Matisse’s View of Notre Dame (1914) with its delicately constructed black scaffolding and flat planes of chalky blue washed in translucent gold light set down the last stone along the path to abstraction. The Ocean Park pictures, begun only months after seeing the Matisse show, seem to leap from this stone. In Untitled (1980) the blue print of Matisse’s pivotal 1914 picture are still evident; like Matisse, Diebenkorn allows the temporal quality of his picture to reveal itself in the subtle pentimenti that float just beneath layers of pale blue, butter yellow and soft peach. Diebenkorn’s blue marks traverse the paper and whisper of an ocean landscape in the same way that Matisse’s lines imply cathedral arches, albeit literally.

Between 1967 and 1980 Diebenkorn remained more or less occupied with the architectonic vocabulary of his Ocean pictures. Then, as Diebenkorn explains:  “In 1981 I did accept both a theme and a motif in the form of the black playing card pips, clubs and spades. I had used these signs in my work almost from my beginnings, but always peripherally, incidentally, and perhaps whimsically. So at this point I dealt with them directly – as theme and variation. I discovered that these symbols had for me a much greater emotional charge than I realized. I had intended to involve myself with them only briefly but found that their impetus kept me with them almost a year and a half” (the artist quoted in: ibid, p. 13). Untitled (1981) is one of the smallest in scale from this briefly explored but richly inventive body of work. The contours and color of the bright emerald green spade evoke organic imagery; the lush form of a large palm tree fans out in the breeze. Joan Miro’s influence is most evident in Diebenkorn’s drawings from this period – in the playful way that a simple landscape emerges from an abstract work. Diebenkorn had discovered Miro’s work in the late 40s; from it, he learned to curve whimsical, suggestive shapes. This paring down to essential lines and evocatory colors recalls the sign-making of Paul Klee and anticipates the street-style of Keith Haring.

Like Willem de Kooning, Diebenkorn honored both figuration and abstraction with lyrical ease, departing from conventional artistic orthodoxy of any variety. Even in the Ocean Park pictures, considered a defining body of work in the history of American abstraction, there is a figurative core; sunlight floats through windows and across sidewalks, the ocean rolls in and recedes, buildings take shape against the horizon. Newlin explains, “The point of his radiant geometry is to transform the visible signs into meaning and to compress meaning into the briefest possible indication of the character of a thing. His medium of transformation is light as it irradiates the colors and illuminates the forms.”

Contemporary Curated featuring works from the Collection of Joni Gordon of Newspace Gallery

|
New York