Richard Diebenkorn - Contemporary Art Day Sale New York Thursday, November 13, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York
    Poindexter Gallery, New York
    Marlborough Gallery, New York
    Mr. and Mrs. Tully M. Friedman, San Francisco
    Christie's, New York, Contemporary Art Part II, May 4, 1989, lot 212
    Private collection, acquired at the above sale
    Christie's, New York, Post War and Contemporary Morning Session, November 16, 2006, lot 167
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    New York, Poindexter Gallery, Drawings, 1970-71, "Ocean Park," March-April 1971.
    New York, Museum of Modern Art, The Drawings of Richard Diebenkorn, November 17, 1988 - January 10, 1989, then traveled to Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (March 9 - May 7, 1989), San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (June 22 - August 27, 1989), Washington, D.C., The Phillips Collection, (September 30 - December 3, 1989)

  • Literature

    J. Elderfield, The Drawings of Richard Diebenkorn, New York, Museum of Modern Art, 1988, p. 154 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    The Ocean Park series, one of the most masterful and fascinating bodies of work in American art, were conceived after Richard Diebenkorn relocated to Southern California from the Bay Area in 1967. This series was important in that, not only it was the largest body of work he produced; it also offered new insights into the artist’s working process, stylistic evolution and artistic explorations. Diebenkorn worked and reworked his paintings and drawings, scraping and repainting again and again, stepping away from the work, assessing an area or a whole, returning and building up layers and abstract geometric relationships and lines as well as atmospheric fields and planes.

    The present lot entitled No. 7 (Ocean Park, Variation 7), 1971 is an exceptional example of Diebenkorn’s earliest Ocean Park drawings. Spare and graphic, it presents a gestural exploration of color, light, form and shape. The various geometric panels featuring the cool and warm pastel shades of green, pink, yellow, grey and blue converge into a single composition with many planes divided by architectonic geometric lines of color. A thin rectangular band of pastel green is juxtaposed to a triangular panel of pinkish beige while a panel of earthy yellow merges into a smaller field of light grey. Although composed of numerous geometric shapes in various colors, the entire image dissolves into a satisfying whole and gains momentum through a mass of lines, subsequent structures and structural relationships. A combination of intention, intuition, and “improvisation,” the numerous strokes of gouache and pastel demonstrate emotions of anger, frustration, despair and relief, and contribute to a variety of textures. Instead of being a study for the paintings, this image is an exploration of “rightness” – an attempt to set up problems, to welcome mistakes, to encourage objectives, and to self-doubt only to result in a well-balanced composition.

  • Artist Biography

    Richard Diebenkorn

    Wholly devoted to painting, Richard Diebenkorn created artworks that often hovered between abstraction and figuration and were committed to exploring the inadequacies of the artform as well as celebrating its triumphs. Diebenkorn pioneered a quintessentially Californian style of abstraction lauded for its lyrical geometry and originally conceived during an epiphanic experience viewing the landscape from an aerial perspective: these paintings are neither fully representational nor abstract, but can be viewed as exploring the interstices between the two concepts and articulating the material experience of life in California. Although these works cemented the artist’s status as one of the premier painters of the postwar era, Diebenkorn oscillated between figuration and abstraction for the entirety of his career, achieving great successes with each new series; he is considered one of the founding members of the Bay Area Figurative Movement and his renowned Ocean Park paintings are considered chief accomplishments of postwar abstraction.

    Diebenkorn’s works betray the painstaking process of their creation. The laborious and contemplative nature of his practice shines through the richly rendered color and translucent striations of drawing, ethereal totems of the artist’s effort. Diebenkorn is considered an essential American abstractionist and his work is represented in many of the most important institutions in the country, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; and the Fine Art Museums of San Francisco. 

    View More Works


No. 7 (Ocean Park, Variation 7)

gouache, wax crayon on paper
25 x 18 in. (63.5 x 45.7 cm)
Initialed and dated "RD 71" lower left; further titled "variation #7" on the reverse.

$200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for $245,000

Contact Specialist
Kate Bryan
Head of Day Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1267

Contemporary Art Day Sale

New York Auction 14 November 2014 11am