Richard Diebenkorn in Berkeley

Richard Diebenkorn, Figure on a Porch, 1959, oil on canvas, 57 x 62 inches (Oakl
Richard Diebenkorn, Figure on a Porch, 1959, oil on canvas, 57 x 62 inches (Oakland Museum of California, gift of the Anonymous Donor Program of the American Federation of the Arts, A60.35.5 © 2013 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation. All rights reserved)

John Seed reviews the exhibition Richard Diebenkorn, The Berkeley Years 1953-1966 at the M.H. De Young Museum, San Francisco, on view through September 29, 2013.

Seed writes: "The works Diebenkorn made during his years in Berkeley reflect his artistic dialogues with Edward Hopper, Northern Expressionism, the work of Bay Area colleagues and the French lineage represented by Cezanne, Matisse and Bonnard. Richard Diebenkorn, a patient and discerning man, was a syncretist of genius."

Seed continues: "Responding to the challenge of the figure eventually brought out some of Diebenkorn's most deft and elegant brushwork. Making the figures 'work' in their painted surroundings was always a positive problem and many of his solutions are brilliant and original. Sometimes Diebenkorn's formalist instincts overwhelmed his feelings about the figure and the resulting paintings could be a bit chilly: during his lifetime Diebenkorn was often annoyed by what critics had to say about a perceived emotional distance between the artist and his human subjects. In truth, even some of his most beautiful figures emanate at least a hint of isolation."