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Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993)
Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993)

Cigar Box Lid #9

Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993)
Cigar Box Lid #9
signed with initials, dated, and dedicated 'FOR ROSELLE + Bill - 5.23.81 RD79' (lower edge); signed and dated again and numbered 'R. Diebenkorn/#9/1979' (on the reverse)
acrylic and graphite on panel
9 x 6 1/4 in. (22.8 x 15.8 cm.)
Executed in 1979.
William and Roselle Davenport, New York 1981
Private collection, 2001
Julian Weissman Fine Art, New York, 2008
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2008
Richard Diebenkorn, M. Knoedler and Co., New York, exh. cat., 1980 (illustrated on the inside back cover).
C. Creppel, "Once Upon a Time in the West," Phoenix, 28 November 1985.
J. Hall, "Nature Links Painter Pals," Columbus Dispatch, 27 April 2008.
Lincoln, University of Nebraska, Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Brooklyn Museum, Richard Diebenkorn: An Intimate View, May–September 1985, pl. 9.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; Washington, D.C., The Phillips Collection and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Richard Diebenkorn, October 1997–January 1998, p. 223, no. 176 (illustrated).
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; Newport Beach, Orange County Museum of Art and Washington, D.C., Corcoran Gallery of Art, Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series, September 2011–January 2012, pp. 27 and 144, pl. 68.
Post Lot Text
This work will be included in the forthcoming Richard Diebenkorn catalogue raisonné as no. 4376.

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Jennifer Yum
Jennifer Yum

Lot Essay

Many of Richard Diebenkorn’s cigar box works—intimately-scaled and created in a limited series between 1976 and 1979—were gifts for friends or family. They possess a highly personal and very special quality yet they, “cannot be classified as either playful or minor. They are too dazzling” (J. Livingston et al., The Art of Richard Diebenkorn, New York, 1997, p. 73). In contrast with his other works, the cigar box lids are a rare instance of Diebenkorn incorporating found objects into his work, that is, working with re-purposed or discarded materials. It’s remarkable that the painting fits this new form so well, and Diebenkorn’s ability to use the repurposed material speaks to his considerable skill as an artist.

The lower two-thirds of Untitled is covered in a pale wash of light paint, above which Diebenkorn drew his characteristic ruler edged and hand drawn lines, reminiscent of a framework or scaffolding. The upper portion of the work is taken up with pale yellow, grey, and red washes, colors that are alternately contained by or over-spilling the graphite boundary lines organizing the upper third of the work’s surface. Characteristic of all the works in the series, Untitled bears a personal inscription located at the bottom portion of the panel, dedicating the work to the recipients, in this instance William and Roselle Davenport. Roselle Davenport was herself a painter, having studied with French modernist Fernand Leger. Diebenkorn and his wife on occasion visited the couple’s home located in Aix-en-Provence in the south of France, and while there he sometimes painted in Roselle’s studio. Diebenkorn dedicated a number of other works of his to the couple, as well.

The cigar box paintings “echo and distill the themes being simultaneously worked out in the Ocean Park paintings and drawings, but in a kind of hothouse. Taken together, the cigar box lids comprise a concise reference work on the artist’s formal quirks and compositional obsessions. Many of the most arresting or idiosyncratic passages in the Ocean Park paintings appear in them, from the hesitant-yet-defining diagonal cutaway to the half-erased boundary; from the tension between ruled and free-hand lines to the occasional compulsion to introduce a severely symmetrical arch; and from the map like habit of construction to the infrequent, and somehow always arresting, introduction of aleatory drips and splatters on the surface” (J. Livingston et al., The Art of Richard Diebenkorn, New York, 1997, p. 73)

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