The Crocker Art Museum, 216 O St., Sacramento, will present Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955, from Oct. 8, 2017 to Jan. 7, 2018. Organized by the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation in conjunction with the Crocker, this traveling exhibition is the first to solely examine the work Diebenkorn made prior to his switch to figuration. It focuses on the artist’s stylistic and technical origins in oil, watercolor, gouache, ink, crayon, and collage, tracing Diebenkorn’s evolution from representational landscape, to semiabstract and Surrealist-inspired work, to his mature Abstract Expressionist paintings from the Sausalito, Albuquerque, Urbana, and early Berkeley years. Accompanied by a fully illustrated scholarly publication by Crocker Art Museum Associate Director and Chief Curator Scott A. Shields, the exhibition counters the prevailing notion that Diebenkorn began his career as a painter in the Abstract Expressionist style. In fact, Diebenkorn himself placed his beginnings in representation.
“Though his evolution was rapid, he (Diebenkorn) did not suddenly arrive on the scene as an Abstract Expressionist prodigy,” asserts Shields. “He investigated many styles and ideas to get there.”
The examination is a landmark contribution to the study and understanding of Diebenkorn, who Shields suggests is “the greatest artist California has yet produced.” Later periods in the artist’s development have been surveyed in exhibitions and publications, but Beginnings is both the first full-scale exhibition and publication to chronicle the artist’s paintings and drawings from early to mid-1940s, as well as the mature abstractions that the artist started to make later in the decade while on the faculty of the California School of Fine Arts (CSFA) in San Francisco.
Beginnings reveals the forces that shaped Diebenkorn as a young artist: the landscape; his service in the U.S. Marines; and his teachers and mentors, most notably painter David Park, whose artistic and paternal guidance lasted until Park’s death in 1960. It also evidences the influence of artists he admired, including Arshile Gorky, Joan Miró, and Willem de Kooning; as well as the writings of art critic Clement Greenberg.
Sunday, October 8, 3 PM
In honor of the opening day of the exhibition Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955, along with Diebenkorn’s love of classical music, the famed San Francisco Munich Trio will appear at the Crocker for a single concert featuring favorites from Beethoven to Mozart. The performance is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 8.