This intimate and interactive installation presents works by famed Bay Area artist and Stanford alum Richard Diebenkorn,’49, shedding new light on the artist’s process, including his shift in style from figuration to abstraction.
In 2014, his wife, Phyllis Diebenkorn, with the assistance of the couple’s daughter, Gretchen Diebenkorn Grant, ’67, MFA, ’69, and the Diebenkorn Foundation, donated 29 of the artist’s sketchbooks to the Cantor Arts Center. This gift reinforced a relationship with Stanford University that began when the artist was an art student and later an artist-in-residence.
The sketchbooks contain 1,045 drawings that span Diebenkorn’s career. Digitized in 2015, select pages from the sketchbooks can be explored in the exhibition on a large, interactive touchscreen, offering a glimpse into his practice.
Diebenkorn always carried a sketchbook, often capturing what he saw before him, including landscapes and figures, mostly in graphite, and black and white. Many of the pages also contain sketches from his expansive Ocean Park series. One painting from that series, Ocean Park No. 94 (1976) is on view in this installation.
Also featured are Diebenkorn’s paintings Window (1967) and Disintegrating Pig (1950) and Buildings—Hill Background (1961), also part of the Cantor’s permanent collection.
Window overlaps chronologically with his Ocean Park series and depicts the view from his studio window in Ocean Park, Santa Monica—a location that inspired the iconic series. These paintings demonstrate Diebenkorn’s changing artistic direction and style and span the most prolific period in his career.
Window was part of an in-depth investigation in the summer of 2016 by Stanford physics engineering student and Chen-Yang Fellow Katherine Van Kirk, ’19. While conducting research in the Art+Science Learning Lab at the Cantor, Van Kirk used an infrared camera, which led to the discovery of earlier compositions under the layers of paint on the surface. Visitors can explore the images beneath the surface using an interactive digital component, which is presented alongside the painting.
Jessica Ventura, Curatorial Assistant
This exhibition is organized by the Cantor Arts Center. We gratefully acknowledge support from The Clumeck Endowment Fund.