painting and photographic works

Diebenkorn in New Mexico – a Book Review

I fell in love with the art of Richard Diebenkorn first when I saw some of his  pieces in San Francisco at the Museum of Modern Art, then when I read “The Art of Richard Diebenkorn” by Jane Livingston (See my earlier blog post). I was hungry to learn more about him and to see more of his work.

This book, Richard Diebenkorn in New Mexico, satisfied my hunger. It  focuses on Diebenkorn’s time in Albuquerque while he was doing a Masters degree at the University of New Mexico. He was there from 1950 to 1952 and produced some 200 works (paintings mainly but also some prints and sculpture). I like how the paintings occasionally hint at the colors and forms of the New Mexico landscape.

Richard Diebenkorn in New Mexico, the 2007  book was published in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name. It features 83 full page color plates and many other photos of his work amongst the text. The text is made up of an introduction by Charles M. Lovell and 3 essays – by Charles Strong and Gerald Nordland and Mark Lavatelli.  These three takes on Diebenkorn’s time in the region have some overlap but are nonetheless each interesting.

Charles Strong is a curator and artist who studied with Diebenkorn for a short time in San Francisco. Strong’s two page “The Sky is the Ocean” serves as an overview to Diebenkorn’s life and work.

Gerald Nordland is the author of the book Richard Diebenkorn: Revised and Expanded and a recognized authority on Diebenkorn. His substantial section of this book entitled “Richard Diebenkorn: Routes to New Mexico” sets the stage for the Albuquerque period describing  Diebenkorn’s life from his childhood to his life as a student in New Mexico (and a little beyond)

The Mark Lavatelli short, 5 page essay, “Diebenkorn’s Albuquerque Years” focuses on just that. He talks about the paintings from that time as well as the influences and how the period shaped Diebenkorn’s style. Lavatelli too know the work of Diebenkorn well, having done his MFA on Diebenkorn’s paintings from the New Mexico period.

All in all, this is a good book. I’d loved to have seen the exhibition which this volume accompanied but since I didn’t, this book will have to do.  I know I will be coming back to the images in this book regularly in the future, as I enjoy and try to understand, the works of this wonderful painter: Richard Diebenkorn.

For more, read the New York Times review of the book.


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