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Born in Portland, Oregon, Richard Diebenkorn became a key figure in the Bay Area (San Francisco, Oakland) figurative school of painting. Diebenkorn studied at Stanford University and later at the University of California, Berkeley. While at Berkeley, he studied with but was not greatly influenced by Abstract Expressionist, Hans Hofmann. He credited Edward Hopper, Paul Cezanne, and Arshile Gorky as major influences on his painting.
In the 1950's, Diebenkorn's work was largely abstract with emphasis on gestural brushwork and strong composition. His figurative work was marked by vibrant colors forming spaces into which Diebenkorn would place a simplified or seated figure. The figurative work of Diebenkorn helped mark the beginning of the Bay Area figurative school.
In the mid-1960's, Diebenkorn settled in Santa Monica, CA. Around this time, he turned away from imagery and focused on the abstract with his "Ocean Park" series. These paintings are geometric abstractions of line and space with visible reminders of all the underlying reworking. The influence of California - it's light and color, and coastal allusions to sky, ocean, seaside and sun - can be seen in these works.
In 1988 Diebenkorn left Santa Monica to return to the Bay Area, where he built a studio in Healdsburg, in the vineyards north of San Francisco. After a heart attack in 1989, followed by a series of operations and illnesses, he gave up working on his characteristically large canvases to concentrate on a series of gouache drawings and two beautifully refined etchings made at Crown Point Press, San Francisco, in 1991 and 1992.