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RICHARD DIEBENKORN
RICHARD DIEBENKORN

High Green, Version I

Details
RICHARD DIEBENKORN
High Green, Version I
aquatint, etching and drypoint in colors, 1992, on Somerset, the colors fresh, signed, dated and annotated 'I' in pencil, numbered 45/65 (there were also 10 artist's proofs), published by Crown Point Press, San Francisco, with their blindstamp, with full margins, in very good condition, framed
P. 39¾ x 22¾ in. (1010 x 578 mm.)
S. 52¾ x 33¾ in. (1340 x 858 mm.)

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Lot Essay

In 1992, a year before his death and the same year he produced his monumental graphic work High Green, Version I (lot 186), Richard Diebenkorn remarked to his daughter in the print studio: "I'm making my drawing in spite of the metal. There are unseen forces there and it's always a competition with them. I think I'm going to make a straight line, and it says, 'Oh, no you don't!'"

Thirty years earlier Diebenkorn's distrusting and delightful engagement with printmaking began when he telephoned Kathan Brown, founder of Crown Point Press. She invited him to a regular Thursday evening drawing group where a live model posed and a group of artists drew directly on (printing) plates. He attended several times but rarely printed from the plates himself, preferring to have Brown print them. Diebenkorn called these early forays into printmaking: "a refreshing change of pace in my work as a whole which in turn may provide new perspectives on it." In fact, his initial concerns that the techniques in making prints would hamper his usual approach to image making turned out to be precisely suited for his ruminative and constant revisions of a subject.

By 1980, Diebenkorn was fifty-eight years old and had published some eighty prints. With exception to a few color lithographs, these were all in black and white. For an artist of Diebenkorn's renown as a colorist, this fact is significant because he was not entirely comfortable with pursuing color in his prints, that is until Brown finally convinced him. She introduced him to the spitbite aquatint process that allowed him to paint directly on the surface of the metal plate with acid. He could then achieve the kind of washy, puddled areas more familiar in the watercolors and paintings that he explored more fully in his twenty-five year preoccupation with the Ocean Park series.

The present eight lots are a strong representation of Diebenkorn as color printmaker working in his most celebrated theme. Drawing on his experience as a cartographer, he virtually mapped the geometry of the West Coast outside his Santa Monica studio. Red-Yellow-Blue (lot 184) and Indigo Horizontal (lot 188) exhibit an organized structure of lines, weighted toward the edges and with an atmospheric center-the whole modulated by a surface built up with veils of carefully balanced color; each is a trial proof given to the Diebenkorn or Crown Point Press upon publication. Blue Surround (lot 187) and High Green, Version I (lot 186) more closely invoke the large-scale 'portal-format' of his Ocean Park paintings and his proximity to the Pacific. Beautiful for their topographical complexity and color, this group of prints is heightened all the more by their printing quality and exceptional freshness in color.

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