Reveal | Richard DiebenkornExhibitions
Reveal | Richard Diebenkorn
Lévy Gorvy Palm Beach is pleased to announce that its inaugural exhibition at the gallery’s Palm Beach location will be anchored by Richard Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park #126 (1984). This luminous masterwork is presented as part of Lévy Gorvy’s REVEAL initiative: an ongoing series of single-work focus exhibitions devoted to postwar and contemporary masterpieces, presented in the gallery’s spaces worldwide. On view beginning January 9, 2021, Ocean Park #126 was made by Diebenkorn (1922–93) at the height of his creative power, prior to relocating to Northern California from the Santa Monica home and studio where his career had flourished since the 1960s.
Ocean Park #126 is in many senses the culmination and climax of Diebenkorn’s most famous body of work, his Ocean Park paintings. This magisterial abstract canvas exemplifies the artist’s exceptional attention to color, line, composition, and process. Painted in a subtle, limpid palette, the work epitomizes the balance between precise control and spontaneity for which Diebenkorn was famed – a defining equipoise within the Ocean Park series, which began in 1967 with the artist’s move from the Bay Area to Southern California. Heralding a break with the figurative style he had pursued since the mid-1950s, Diebenkorn deftly encapsulated the exquisite light of his new surroundings, expressing a special understanding of the West Coast’s topography through architectonic compositional structure.
Monumental in scale and effect, Ocean Park #126 is among the largest paintings in the Ocean Park series. Its vast fields of creamy pink, cornflower blue, and golden yellow are demarcated by energetic lines in black, blue, gray, and red – slices of paint that divide the compositional space into interlocking planes. Diebenkorn’s mastery of his approach is revealed in delicately worked passages that convey both vibrant energy and subtle harmonies of form and color. While palpably capturing the unique atmosphere of his surroundings, Diebenkorn here synthesizes perfectly the optical effects of California with the New York School’s emphasis on process and gesture, and the lessons of European modernism as embodied by the masters who inspired his art – Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, and Piet Mondrian.
With its varied application of paint, refined brushwork, and exceptional layering and superimposition of forms, Ocean Park #126 is among the finest compositions of Diebenkorn’s entire oeuvre. According to Brett Gorvy, “This is Diebenkorn at his best. What makes the painting so lively is the incredible transparency of the color and the way that he created beautiful, subtle passages where every element is a painting unto itself. Because this is one of the last of his great works, it is a summation of most of the ideas with which Diebenkorn experimented from the 1960s onwards.”
The Palm Beach presentation of Ocean Park #126 will be complemented by a selection of other exceptional paintings, most notably Untitled XII (1975) by Willem de Kooning. Created after the artist’s move from New York City to a seaside studio in the Hamptons, Untitled XII is notable for layered, flowing brushstrokes that evoke the power and ineffable rhythms of North Atlantic waves. Even so, the painting’s alternately hot, cool, and fleshy palette suggests bodily forms that aligning this work with the ideas and expressive gestures for which de Kooning’s art is prized.