Abstract And Bland: The Paintings Of Richard Diebenkorn

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 38 months ago
Abstract And Bland: The Paintings Of Richard Diebenkorn ★☆☆☆☆ 1
Richard Diebenkorn
 Cityscape #1, 1963
 Oil on canvas, 153 x 128.3 cm
 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Purchased with funds from Trustees and friends in memory of Hector Escobosa, Brayton Wilbur, and J.D.
 Zellerbach
 Copyright 2014 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation
These landscapes are the best works in the show. Copyright 2014 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation
Richard Diebenkorn
 Albuquerque #4, 1951
 Oil on canvas, 128.9 x 116.2 cm
 Saint Louis Art Museum. Gift of Joseph Pulitzer Jr.
 Copyright 2014 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation
These early abstract works feel very muddled. Copyright 2014 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation
Richard Diebenkorn
 Girl On a Terrace, 1956
 Oil on canvas, 179.07 x 166.05 x 2.54 cm
 Collection Neuberger Museum of Art 
 Purchase College, State University of New York. Gift of Roy R. Neuberger
 Copyright 2014 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation
The figurative work appears fairly amateurish. Copyright 2014 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation
Richard Diebenkorn
 Berkeley #5, 1953
 Oil on canvas, 134.6 x 134.6 cm
 Private collection 
 Copyright 2014 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation
His paintings often lack clarity. Copyright 2014 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation
Richard Diebenkorn
 Ocean Park #27, 1970
 Oil on canvas, 254 x 203.2 cm
 Brooklyn Museum. Gift of The Roebling Society and Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Blatt and Mr. and Mrs. William K. Jacobs, Jr., 72.4
 Copyright 2014 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation
These abstract colour fields have a Matisse feel to them but the colours aren't vibrant enough. Copyright 2014 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation
Richard Diebenkorn
 Ocean Park #116, 1979
 Oil and charcoal on canvas
 208.3 x 182.9 cm
 Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, museum purchase, gift of Mrs. Paul L. Wattis
 Copyright 2014 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation
Copyright 2014 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation

Londonist Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Richard Diebenkorn is a painter who is well regarded in the US but not much known in Europe. This exhibition has brought across more than 50 of his works to remedy this fact.

His early abstract paintings feel muddled and unfocused and it's only in his later career that these abstract works became more strictly lineated and geometric. Yet his use of colour lacks vibrancy and therefore impact, compared to the cut-outs by Matisse these pieces lack energy and left us feeling underwhelmed.

Diebenkorn also turned his hand to figurative works and landscapes, but once again the use of colour left us feeling disengaged. Compared to fellow painters Peter Doig and David Hockney there just isn't anything in Diebenkorn's work that creates an emotional connection with the viewer.

Richard Diebenkorn is little known in the UK and we think this is for good reason, as he's not at all comparable to more accomplished British artists. This show is a massive disappointment and one to avoid.

Richard Diebenkorn is on at the Royal Academy of Arts until 7 June. Tickets are £10 for adults, concessions available.

Also still on at the Royal Academy is the impressive Rubens and his legacy.

Last Updated 14 March 2015

Katja

Sounds like you don't like Diebenkorn because he's not Matisse or Hockney. How about trying to appreciate something original?

Seisen

Diebenkorn's use of colour is beautiful, layered, poetic. His paintings are gorgeous, often hovering between abstract and figurative. Matisse's use of colour is also beautiful. I see no reason to compare them to the detriment of either painter.

JoCo

What an incredibly light-weight, ill-considered, and dismissive review. You didn't get it, so everyone else should avoid this show? And who is "we"? This is a compelling show presenting the opportunity to see works by an esteemed artist whose work is little seen in the UK. Being a relatively small show, there's the chance to spend time with each work and to engage with it. Far from avoiding this exhibition, I urge everyone who can to see it and form your own opinion.

Theodore Matoff

I am greatly surprised with the negative appraisal by Tabish Khan. TK is entitled to his preference - though liimited in appreciation - to paintings with highly contrasting hues, but Diebenkorn's artistic research was with the qualities of light and the skillful use of composition to enhance light/depth space. This appraisal reveals more of the limitations of assesment by the critic rather than an objective evaluation of the work. www.matoff.com

Richard

I rather like that first one in particular

H in The Hague

For a different perspective on the same exhibition:
http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2...

Yesbutno

Me thinks perhaps "someone" simply browsed through RA's online gallery, and perhaps didn't go in person...perhaps?

miriam dougenis

Matisse is Matisse, Doig is Doig and Diebenkorn is Diebenkorn. Why do so-called critics like to compare one to the other as if Diebenkorn's colors are not Matisse-like that's a minus. Open your eyes Mr. Critic and evaluate each artist on their own merits. Diebenkorn's work is uniquely wonderfully his own.... ... his color sense, the shapes, composition and the looseness of execution with all their "reveals" layered on. If you couldn't get emotionally involved standing in front of one of his canvases, then stay in bed and drink tea.

P8n8lop8

This almost makes me NOT want to EVER read Londonist EVER again. Wow - how flat and uneducated your review of this fantastic exhibit is. I do wonder who these 'more accomplished British artists' are you speak of...you don't even dare include their names in your review. Leads me to believe you don't even know who they are!