For much of the 1940s and early 1950s Richard Diebenkorn was committed to abstract expressionism, having studied at the California School of Fine arts in San Francisco under some of the leading practitioners, including Mark Rothko and Clifford Still. In the mid-50s, however, his style underwent one of several dramatic shifts that was to mark his career, and he began to adopt a more figurative approach that blended abstract expressionism with Henri Matisse. Together with Elmer Bischoff, David Park and others Diebenkorn became part of a renaissance of figurative painting known as the Bay Area Figurative Movement.
In 1967, Diebenkorn moved to Santa Monica and took up a professorship at UCLA, moving into a small studio space in the same building as his old friend from the Bay Area, Sam Francis. In the winter of 1966–67 he returned to abstraction, this time in a distinctly personal, geometric style clearly differentiated from his early abstract expressionist period. The Ocean Park series, begun in 1967 and developed for the next 18 years, became his most famous work and resulted in over 150 paintings and etchings. Based on the aerial landscape and perhaps the view from his studio window, these large-scale abstract compositions bridge his earlier abstract expressionist works with Color field painting and Lyrical Abstraction and evoke the sensual beauty of the coastal light and landscape. Diebenkorn once recalled about looking down from an airplane: “[There] were so many things I wanted in my paintings…ghosts of former tilled fields…areas where the fields were all planted in the same way for the same crop yet showed unlimited visual variety.”
For the majority of his prints and especially those related to the Ocean Park series, Diebenkorn collaborated with Kathan Brown at Crown Point Press, starting in 1963. From 1977 he spent a few weeks every year experimenting with the medium. By the time Green was executed in 1986, he was one of the most accomplished printmakers of his generation, adept at the highly technical challenges required in executing such a complex work. In order to produce the final plates, Diebenkorn went through dozens of trial proofs, often cutting and collaging one with another, overlapping sections into a lattice evoking boundaries in a landscape. Within these forms, Diebenkorn used aquatint to mirror his painterly brushwork, with its subtle variations in tone and saturation. In the thirty years since its creation Green has come to be seen as the most important graphic work by one of the twentieth century's seminal printmakers.