January 25, 2008

Diebenkorn arrives in New York

"Diebenkorn in New Mexico," curated by Charles Strong and Charles M. Lovell; organized by the Harwood Museum in Taos, New Mexico. Grey Art Gallery, New York, NY. Through April 5. Click here to see images.

Save those paintings from grad school. Between January 1950 and June 1952, Richard Diebenkorn was enrolled in the graduate fine arts department at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, and these are some of the paintings he made while he was there. Supported by the G.I. Bill, Diebenkorn was able to paint twelve hours a day without racking up the towering mountain of debt that many of today's MFA students have to repay. In the NYTimes, Roberta Smith calls it "a radiant hodgepodge of a show, full of striving, stumbling and sudden effortless glides. Diebenkorn would later go on to make grander, more complex paintings, both figurative and abstract, than the ones here. But too many of these later works are tamped down by his studious reserve and exquisite touch; they balance on the cusp of vitality without really getting their feet wet. In many ways his painting was never freer, less predictable or more full of the future than in New Mexico." Read more.

When the show was at the San Jose Museum of Art, Kenneth Baker wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle that "a muted sense of mischief ripples through Diebenkorn's Albuquerque work, a quality hard to detect in even the most buoyant of his later abstract paintings. For me, that is the mark of this phase of his art. It even informs the rare, praying-mantis-like welded steel sculpture on view, possibly Diebenkorn's only extant sculpture. But the mischief shows most clearly in the drawings, which frequently flirt with the look of unsprung or unfinished cartoons." Read more.

Related posts:
Harwood Museum presents Diebenkorn's work from grad school
At SELLOUT, artists wonder how important an MFA degree is today: Tuesday Survey MFA

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