Staring at art from the Tate's collection and thinking about it

Sunday, 17 February 2013

#4 - Richard Diebenkorn

 #4, Richard Diebenkorn, 1978, etching, aquatint and drypoint on paper, 277 x 200 mm, Tate.

I'm generally suspicious when painters do series of prints, especially when, as they so often do, they resemble a photo of one of their paintings that has been sent via fax.  I find it hard to convince myself that the work has some merit in its own right, and that in fact it's just art world product, existing to provide a cheap range for those who might find the price of a painting a bit steep.
   Although I get a bit of a sense of that here, what this work does do is emphasize the importance of line in Diebenkorn's work.  Tying in with his 'Ocean Park' series of paintings, in which he captures the feel of the Californian coast (or to be tediously Marxist, the joys of Californian beachfront property ownership), we can see a fragmented Cubist approach to space, with lines that conjure up the sea sandwiched between areas of land.  Indeed, positively identifying much is tricky, but nevertheless a sense of place is expertly communicated.  An image that rewards close and sustained viewing, as a location slowly reveals itself from the apparent jumble of elements.  A formalist might argue that the work should succeed or fail on its own merits, regards of its ability to connect the viewer to its subject matter, but, you know, fuck 'em.

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