Richard Diebenkorn

Richard Diebenkorn’s first New York gallery show was in 1954.  It sold out.  It was a big hit, why?  Matisse had recently died and was on everyone’s mind and Diebenkorn’s work looked as if he were channeling early Matisse. The bold color, the brushwork, composition / geometries and line.  RD arrived on the New York art scene with work that was as familiar as an old shoe to the New York art cognoscenti and as seductive as sex.  Just as Diebenkorn capitalized on a brand that had been road/culture/market tested, so did Andy Warhol but  where RD rode on the back of the 20th Century’s most hallowed art world brand -Henri Matisse, Warhol expanded his scope to encompass the great brands of all consumer culture. In 1954 Richard Diebenkorn was scanning Matisse’s early years for inspiration.  During the “Ocean Park” years in his Venice, California studio Diebenkorn had narrowed his focus on Matisse to a single painting, “Zora on the Terrace” painted in 1912.  The entire Ocean Park series, considered to be masterpieces by many-not me,  though they are certainly beautiful,  is based on just the background of this single painting.  Diebenkorn looked as closely at and borrowed from Matisse as though Matisse were nature itself - metamimesis.