Got a hero? I do. Lots of them. Richard Diebenkorn, the great 20th century American painter of life and abstraction, is one of them. I went through a whole phase of studying Diebenkorn’s painting about eight years ago. I poured over every book I could find and visited as many Diebenkorn paintings in collections as possible. Thanks to new motherhood, I had missed a huge Diebenkorn show in Washington. That’s okay. I’m happy with the kid. But perhaps to make up for the missed opportunity, I studied him in this other, vicarious way.
While my baby daughter was asleep, on a few nights when I was not, I rolled out large sheets of paper on the floor and made my own big abstractions using kids’ tempera paints! I was just like Richard Dreyfuss with the mashed potatoes (mentioned a few posts back)! What a lovely obsession it was to feel this thrill of the pure beauty of paint itself and the aching search for forms that are untied from things and thingness.
The painting above, however, comes from Diebenkorn’s figurative phase in the 1950s and early 60s. It shows a limp girl who seems to be feeling somewhat like I felt (after a night of tempera painting while baby slept).
[Designers take note: I make copies! Commission me to copy a Diebenkorn. I’d love it. Just like Rubens, I still make copies.]