29 Sketchbooks by Renowned Artist Richard Diebenkorn, Containing 1,045 Drawings, Now Freely Viewable Online

Richard Diebenkorn (U.S.A., 1922–1993), Untitled from Sketchbook #4, page 23, 1943–1993. Ink wash with pen and ink on paper. Cantor Arts Center collection, Gift of Phyllis Diebenkorn, 2014.4.25. © The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation

We owe the way we see Cal­i­for­nia today in part to the painter Richard Diebenko­rn, “whose deeply lyri­cal abstrac­tions evoked the shim­mer­ing light and wide-open spaces” of the state “where he spent vir­tu­al­ly his entire life.” Those words come from his 1993 New York Times obit­u­ary, which sug­gest­ed that Diebenko­rn’s resis­tance to brief aes­thet­ic move­ments and art-world fads (a resis­tance aid­ed by the dis­tance between Cal­i­for­nia and New York) would ensure that the influ­ence of his vision long sur­vive him. Now, thanks to Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty’s Can­tor Arts Cen­ter, we can look more close­ly than ever at what went into that vision in a new online exhi­bi­tion of Diebenko­rn’s sketch­books.

“Through­out his long career,” writes the Stan­ford Report’s Anna Koster, “Diebenko­rn, AB ’49, kept a sketch­book – a ‘portable stu­dio,’ as he called it – to cap­ture his ideas. These books, now in the Can­tor’s col­lec­tion, span 50 years and rep­re­sent the range of styles and sub­jects he explored, includ­ing deeply per­son­al por­traits of his wife, stud­ies of the fig­ure, land­scape stud­ies and com­po­si­tions that point to Diebenko­rn’s sig­na­ture blend of fig­u­ra­tion and abstrac­tion.” The sketch­books, donat­ed by the artist’s wid­ow and the Diebenko­rn Foun­da­tion, cur­rent­ly sit on dis­play at the Can­tor’s exhi­bi­tion Richard Diebenko­rn: The Sketch­books Revealed, which runs through August 22, 2016.

But if you can’t make it to north­ern Cal­i­for­nia before then, you can have a look at all of them online and behold in detail their 1,045 draw­ings span­ning fifty years of Diebenko­rn’s life. They give not only an insight into how he ren­dered the mate­r­i­al for so many of our Cal­i­for­nia dreams, but how he han­dled his famous­ly con­trar­i­an oscil­la­tions between styles, from Abstract Expres­sion­ism to fig­u­ra­tion and back to the abstract again, with some of his rich­est work in-between. “I was nev­er throw­ing things away when I switched from one way of paint­ing to anoth­er,” he once said. “You can see a con­tin­u­um from rep­re­sen­ta­tion to abstrac­tion, although I must say it nev­er felt like a smooth tran­si­tion while I was in the mid­dle of it.”

via Stan­ford News

Relat­ed Con­tent:

45,000 Works of Art from Stan­ford University’s Can­tor Arts Cen­ter Now Freely View­able Online

178,000 Images Doc­u­ment­ing the His­to­ry of the Car Now Avail­able on a New Stan­ford Web Site

The Art of Liv­ing: A Free Stan­ford Course Explores Time­less Ques­tions

How the CIA Secret­ly Fund­ed Abstract Expres­sion­ism Dur­ing the Cold War

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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  • Sara says:

    I can­not access these sketch books, can you send me a bet­ter link?? I get to the inter­ac­tive down­load, I see the page full of sketch books but when i click on one noth­ing appears…I hope you can help, Many thanks SARA STUDD

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