Matisse’s influence on Diebenkorn is most visible in the younger artist’s figurative works from the 1950s and 1960s, but also evident in the structure, composition,and light of his earlier andlater abstractions.
The exhibition is organized chronologically through Diebenkorn’s career beginning with some of the first Matisse works that Diebenkorn viewed in the Palo Alto home of Sarah Stein, one of Matisse’s first patrons, and at the BMA, The Phillips Collection in Washington D.C.and The Museum of Modern Art in New Yorkin the 1940s. These works introduced the motifs, palette and techniquesthat later influenced the American painter.
A rich selection of exceptional paintings and drawings from Diebenkorn’s representational period (1955-1967) illustrate the artist’s shift from abstraction towards identifiable subject matter and will be paired with some of the French master’s own compositions that were of particular relevance. Diebenkorn continued to seek out Matisse’s example, most notably during a trip to the Soviet Union in 1964, where he saw the extensive collections of works by Matisse in the StateHermitage Museum and the Pushkin Museum.
This was followed by a visit two years later to a large Matisse retrospective in Los Angeles, where he saw over 300 works by the French master. Two highly significant abstract Matisse paintings that Diebenkorn saw in the 1966 retrospective will be featured in the exhibition.
Diebenkorn returned to abstraction soon after moving to Ocean Park in Santa Monica, California in 1967. He is best known for his color and light-filled abstract compositions produced there. The exhibition will conclude with a selection of his Ocean Parkpaintings(1968-1980) juxtaposed with a selection of Matisse’s most influential works.
A fully illustrated catalogue will be produced with essays by Matisse/Diebenkorn co-curators Katy Rothkopf, BMA Senior Curator of European Painting & Sculpture,and Janet Bishop, SFMOMA Weisel Family Curator of Painting and Sculpture. Both examine Diebenkorn’s interactions with Matisse’swork throughout his long career. It will also include an introduction by John Elderfield, Allen R. Adler Distinguished Curator and Lecturer at the Princeton University Art Museum and Chief Curator Emeritus of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, who has curated groundbreaking exhibitions on both artists. Jodi Roberts, Associate Curator of Special Projects at the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University will contribute an essay regarding the relationship between Matisse’s drawings and Diebenkorn’s own graphic work.The exhibition catalogue will be co-published with DelMonico Books/Prestel.
Richard Diebenkorn Untitled (Ocean Park), 1971 Charcoal on paper 26 1/4 x 18 5/8 inches Henri Matisse View of Notre Dame, 1914, Oil on Canvas 58 x 37 inches
Henri Matisse The Piano Lesson 1916. Oil on canvas, 8′ 1/2″ x 6′ 11 3/4″ & Richard Diebenkorn Ocean Park #16, 1968 Oil on canvas 92 1/2 x 76 in.
Full Images Credits:
Henri Matisse. View of Notre Dame. 1914. The Museum of Modern Art, New York: Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest, and the Henry Ittleson, A. Conger Goodyear, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Sinclair Funds, and the Anna Erickson Levene Bequest given in memory of her husband, Dr. Phoebus Aaron Theodor Levene, 116.1975.©2015 Succession H. Matisse, Paris/Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York
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. ©Richard Diebenkorn Foundation