Diebenkorn

I just discovered Tyler Green's Modern Art Notes (an Arts Journal blog) & wanted to recommend it to anyone with an interest in contemporary visual arts. I found Green's blog because I had begun checking out Arts Journal after finding that cultural critic & book reviewer Scott McLemee's blog Quick Study was hosted there. McLemee, who writes a regular column for Inside Higher Ed, is the most tuned-in and clear-thinking critic I have come across in a long time. So I was scanning the Arts Journal main page and saw a reference to Richard Diebenkorn, my favorite 20th century American artist. Naturally, I clicked through. Green's meditation / explanation of Ocean Part No. 38 illuminates the painting's structure & speculates interestingly about Diebenkorn's process. I've spent a good deal of time looking at & thinking about Richard Diebenkorn's paintings since I first came across them in an art magazine -- probably Artforum Art in America -- in the 1970s. [Checked Artforum's online archive without finding a Diebenkorn feature that early; Art in America does not appear to have online archives. --jd] I saw the LA Art Museum's huge Diebenkorn retrospective in the late 1980s & I seek out individual works when I leave my rural enclave for a big city with a contemporary art museum. I especially like the smaller cigar box lid paintings & sketches -- I have Dore Ashton's monograph on these exquisite works. I also have the big book of Diebenkorn's paintings, along with a couple of other monographs & have written a couple of poems that borrow from the Ocean Park series in general -- both poems are written in the same syllabic form & embedded in a long series called Island Universe that I have been working on for many years. I probably got the idea of the sequence as a structural process from John Berryman & Richard Diebenkorn at about the same point in my youthful development. The work always amazes me. And amazement is what I want from art: to turn away changed. Well, what I've written above turns out to be about my love for the Diebenkorn Ocean Park paintings; if you want to read someone actually discussing the paintings, you should click through to Tyler Green's site. He makes the connection between Diebenkorn & Matisse that others have made -- in particular to Matisse's View of Notre Dame (1914) with its strong diagonals, but Green brings an informed enthusiasm to the work that underwrites his analysis.

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.

4 thoughts on “Diebenkorn”

  1. there were many of those cigar box lids in a whitney show not too many years back and i thought that show a great gift because of that particularly. here in san francisco we have diebenkorns aplenty, the canvases. wonderful period of those painters like david park, paul wonner, william theo brown, james
    weeks, elmer bishoff. and then diebenkorn from l.a. i think who went to the sf art institute and he had his first big show at the legion of honor when they were doing local artists. i’ll bet you drank in all of these when you were a lad (even if you weren’t aware of it). then what of jess (collins) who was off by himself or with those guys like bruce connor who used nylons and such. but what energy YES IT WAS ENERGY they had. all of them. they flung more than a pot of paint in the public space: they flung themselves ordinary and extraordinary in all their nakednesses and artifices sailing into the air of the mindscape i entered when i moved here to stay that june 1970.
    and i just spooned it up like oatmeal and a softboiled egg.
    edward mycue

  2. Ed, you comment above reminds me of that kind of painting. You are one of the few guys I know who writes enjambed prose.

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