Work of Art: Berkeley No. 8
Richard Diebenkorn
American
Berkeley No. 8
1954
Oil on canvas
69 1/8 x 59 1/8 in. (175.6 x 150.2 cm)
Gift of W. R. Valentiner
© 2012 The Estate of Richard Diebenkorn

Richard Diebenkorn's paintings have been rightly termed "abstract landscapes"-a description exemplified by Berkeley No. 8, which belongs to a series created while the artist was living across the bay from San Francisco. As with all of his best work, the painting summarizes the artist's quickened perceptions of color and space. Rather than plan, Diebenkorn -- like Elizabeth Murray and Robert Motherwell -- improvises, discovering the picture's image through trial and error. He has built the composition (reportedly inspired by aerial views of the American Southwest) of blocks of color. Diagonals cleave and fracture the horizontal elements of the design. Most remarkable is the quality of light, a synthesis of the parched colors of New Mexico and the soft, marine radiance of the Pacific coast.

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