What Diebenkorn & Matisse Taught Me

Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park #79, 1975 (Philadelphia Museum of Art, purchased with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and with funds contributed by private donors, 1977, 1977-28-1. © 2016 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation)
Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park #79, 1975 (Philadelphia Museum of Art, purchased with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and with funds contributed by private donors, 1977, 1977-28-1. © 2016 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation)

Elyn Zimmerman reflects on his studies with Richard Diebenkorn on the occasion of Matisse/Diebenkorn at the Baltimore Museum of Art (through January 29, 2017) and at the San Francisco Museum of Art from March 11 – May 29, 2017.

Zimmerman recalls: "A favorite topic [of Diebenkorn's] was Henri Matisse... Diebenkorn spoke about the difficulty of making a gray painting—how hard it is to make something meaningful and able to connect when one of the fundamental elements of painting—color—is not present or is reduced... I’m afraid, given my youth and inexperience at the time, I didn’t get all the substance of what he was sharing, but what impressed me even then was his intensity, focus, and seriousness. Painting meant everything. Work meant everything.