cover image Richard Diebenkorn: Figurative Works on Paper

Richard Diebenkorn: Figurative Works on Paper

Chronicle Books, Richard Diebenkorn, Barnaby Conrad III. Chronicle Books, $60 (116pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-4218-1

This chapbook of uncollected figurative images by West Coast artist Richard Diebenkorn, known mostly for his abstractions, brings together a body of work that precedes his most famous Ocean Park paintings, and perhaps sheds some new light on them. In drawings, paintings and gouaches of nude and clothed women, the pictures range broadly in mood and execution: some of them are shadowy and brooding, others crudely, brightly patterned, still others reminiscent of youthful coffeehouse art. Throughout all, however, the images display confident brushwork and coloration, and a searching, complex relationship to their subjects. Numerous of them bear a freshness that would fit in the contemporary art world's most recent return to drawing. Although in some ways minor to Deibenkorn's oeuvre, even these smaller efforts have their gravity in the context of his imposing legacy. In the accompanying essays, Jane Livingston and Barnaby Conrad deliver solid art scholarship and personal recollection, respectively, while John McEnroe compares the artist's canvas to a tennis court (""His ability to move between serious exploration of abstraction and representational art reminds me of someone who began his career playing mainly from the baseline, later learned how to attack the net, and then settled back to using his ground strokes""). (Sept.)