See a Fine Picture: Diebenkorn at the Corcoran

The great California artist Richard Diebenkorn’s “Ocean Park” series is on exhibit at Washington’s Corcoran Museum of Art. His paintings bring together color, light, a sense of place and the marriage of abstraction and representation (something that wasn’t supposed to be possible.)

The “Ocean Park” paintings caught my eye in the 70’s, more as emblematic of a look and a style than anything else. They were inspired by the artist’s daily walk through the park on his way to teach at UCLA. But somehow they captured what the decade looked like to my, then teenage, eyes, particularly the “delectable mountains” quality that Southern California had to a kid stuck on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Later, I took another look when I wrote about “Ocean Park, #49” for “Sister Wendy’s American Collection,” a web site I produced for PBS in early 2001. (She was touring U.S. museums expounding on works selected seemingly at random. Thought I might get to meet her, but no soap.)

The Corcoran show, up through September 23, brings together around 80 of the works and got a perceptive review from the City Paper (which apparently still does art criticism, who knew?) The exhibit has a fee, except on free Saturdays in the summer. So hoping that will be my “see a fine picture” for today.

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