Many of us have had the distinct privilege of having brushed up against greatness. The lucky few absorb these chance encounters and mix with their own alchemy to become great.
My recent visit to the Deibenkorn exhibit at the Orange County Museum of Contemporary Art conjured up wonderful, rich memories of my brush with greatness, and of the time I spent with Richard Deibenkorn in 1974. Although I was a young scholarship student at Art Center College of Design, when Deibenkorn was my painting instructor, I sensed something fantastic about this artist. Richard Deibenkorn had caught the imagination and endorsement of the world art scene with his ‘Ocean Park Series’. A painter’s painter, the series, inspired from his view of the dilapidated Ocean Park was pure poetry on canvas. A tall, six foot five, shy, introverted quiet man, with a slight stoop, and a brushy mustache, looking like a bundle of fine paint brushes, worked patiently with his students by suggesting approaches to applying paint and color. Or, he would coax from the students their feelings and what they were trying to say.
At the time, Deibenkorn’s paintings, if you could buy one, sold for less than $20,000. Not a small amount of money then. Today, a piece from the Ocean Park Series sells for between $5 million to $10 million.
If you love art, love great art, then you must seek out any opportunity to see The Ocean Park series up close. – Scott
Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series is the first major museum exhibition to explore the artist’s most celebrated series created from 1967 to 1988. Recognized as a leading West Coast Abstract Expressionist in the 1950s, Diebenkorn turned his attention to figurative painting in 1955 and achieved equal success in this alternate style. In 1967 he returned to abstraction, and during the next twenty years would forge one of the most compelling and masterful bodies of work of the 20th century: the Ocean Park series. Featuring approximately 80 works—including paintings, prints, drawings, and collages—this exhibition captures Diebenkorn’s practice of working simultaneously in diverse media and provides audiences with the first opportunity to explore the complexity of Diebenkorn’s artistic and aesthetic concerns in this seminal body of work.
The highlights of the Ocean Park series are large canvases (7 to 8 ½ feet tall) of abstract painting, most of them g