Beginning in 1956, Richard Diebenkorn turned away from the abstract style in which he had been painting since the early 1940's and favored representational subjects. For Diebenkorn, whose artistic maturity began in abstraction, this change represented a step forward as opposed to a return to tradition. Diebenkorn has explained that he was never particularly interested in the transcendental, but that for him art had to deal with some aspect of the concrete.
While Diebenkorn is primarily a painter, drawing is central to his acheivement and reveals his highly cultivated intuitive method of interpretation. In the present example, we glimpse a seated woman in a private contemplative moment. As she pauses and glances away, we are free to admire her beauty and poise. She is exquisitely rendered in a classic pose, her body in perfect balance. Diebenkorn captures her with clear confident lines forming an archetypal pyramidal configuration that strengthens her stunning physical and psychological presence. The precise balance of her body is offset by the loose spontaneous patterns in the fabric that surrounds her reminiscent of Matisse.
Throughout his career, Diebenkorn was strongly influenced by Matisse in his choice of subject matter, palette and pictoral design. From Cezanne, he cultivated his keen sense of structure and balance. Integral to Diebenkorn's work is the unity of subject and setting, with the whole becoming greater that the sum of its parts. Consequently, Diebenkorn's models usually look down or away, partly because "(he) does not want to make psychological contact with the face. He wants us to grasp the meaning of a work from the whole composition and not have it filtered through the personality of the model" (J. Elderfield, exh. cat., The Drawings of Richard Deibenkorn, The Museum of Modern Art, New York 1988, p.22).