Thursday, July 18, 2013

Diebenkorn at the de Young

A huge exhibition has recently opened at the de Young Museum devoted to the California painter Richard Diebenkorn's work from 1953 to 1966 when he lived in the Berkeley Hills. It's a lush, beautiful, overwhelming show, with what can be called Diebenkorn Green running through the paintings and drawings like an emerald vein, in both the abstract canvases and figurative landscapes, still lifes and nudes.

The artist has long been one of my favorite painters, and his influence on subsequent California artists has been incalculable, not to mention changing the way we all see the world. Once, at a very dull job with little actual work, I virtually wandered up the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Minnesota, using Google Map's Satellite View, and realized that every other screen looked like a Diebenkorn painting. See the above for an example.

There are a few other beautiful things at the museum right now, including Agnes Pelton's 1940 Challenge, depicting the sky in Cathedral City, which at the present moment is in danger of fire and ash coming down the San Jacinto Mountains.

My favorite piece at the museum is the large 2004 tapestry on the second floor made out of aluminum beer bottle caps and copper wire by the Nigerian artist El Anatsui. It never fails to mesmerize.


Hattie said...

Guess you couldn't take photos. I'm recalling that time in Berkeley when I lived in the hills there too. But I did not become aware of Diebenkorn until much later.

Axel Feldheim said...

I like Diebenkorn too, so I should try to get to this. I even have a fading poster of one of his map-like paintings on my wall. And that bottle cap tapestry is one of my favorites at the de Young as well. It always reminds of the awesome rug woven out of Wonderbread bags at the American Folk Art Museum in NYC.