This work will be included in the forthcoming Richard Diebenkorn catalogue raisonné of paintings and drawings being prepared by the Estate of Richard Diebenkorn.
Richard Diebenkorn moved to Los Angeles to teach at the University of California in 1967. The views from his new studio on Ocean Park Boulevard were an immediate inspiration to him. Consumed by what would become his ultimate artistic vision, he eschewed figuration for abstraction for the final time when he embarked upon his fabled Ocean Parks. Today his work has become synonymous with this series and it dominated his output for the rest his life. Vibrant and lush, Untitled embodies the best of these works. Its rigorous formal composition is perfectly balanced by its ethereal palette creating a California idyll.
Diebenkorn's Ocean Parks consist of paintings and works on paper. Far from being studies for the paintings, the works on paper are independent works on which the artist often solely focused. Of the works on paper Diebenkorn said, "Paper, I find, is something else, lending itself to the different scale of the small size. It is almost as though if I can call my work a large drawing instead of a small canvas, it becomes possible" (F. Gettings, Drawings 1974-1984, exh. cat., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., 1984, p. 77).
Henri Matisse had a profound influence on Diebenkorn. He found particular inspiration in works like Vue de Notre Dame, 1914 whose tight planar composition and extreme perspective compressed the cityscape elements pushing them to the front of the picture plane. Representation moved quickly toward abstraction. In his Ocean Parks, Diebenkorn continued to evolve the pictorial explorations Matisse had begun.
The compositional strategy of Untitled is true to form but Diebenkorn employs a palette in this particular work that is remarkable. Instead of opaque fields of blue or red, the present work is composed of one dramatic pastel hue layered upon another. It portrays light and air in a depth well beyond most of his other Ocean Parks. Untitled draws not only on Matisse's Parisian cityscapes but, more importantly, revels in the spectacular light and air of Nice by way of Southern California.
"For Diebenkorn the experience of color and of relational unity is a mix of the sinuous and the sublime, more worldly than mystical but no less affective. He once observed, 'I prefer doomsday in the bright sun.' The point of his radiant geometry is to transform visible signs into meaning and to compress meaning into the briefest possible indication of the character of a thing. His medium of transformation is light as it irradiates the colors and illuminates the forms" (R. Newlin, Richard Diebenkorn: Works on Paper, Houston, 1987, p. 13). A master of light and color, Diebenkorn uses them to unprecedented affect in Untitled.