Richard Diebenkorn - Girl with Flowered Background - 1962 - 103 x 52 cm - oil on canvas
How Diebenkorn integrated the figure with the Matisse like rhythm of the background is beautifully considered. Let’s begin with the horizontal black shape at the left of the painting and how it sweeps up and integrates with the blue shadow, through the red shape, then with her hair. The sweep also connects to the delightfully assessed black shape above her right shoulder, which brings the eye to the blue stripe on her blouse, very impressive. We then automatically follow the red stripe which not only integrates with her hair, but when you follow it down from her right shoulder you will eventually connect to the stem of the small flower above her left shoulder, which then joins with a white shape connecting us to the horizontal division of the painting. Very sophisticated.
There are two wonderful pulls permitting us to leave the focus of her hair and move through the painting. I’m referring to the beautifully balanced black shape at the bottom and the other one at the right edge of the painting. Remember, these are meant to be felt more than noticed and pulls relate through closeness in either value or colour.
The centres of the flowers provide a beautiful subtle horizontal rhythm supporting the division in the composition and gently relieving us from the strength of her black hair. Do you find your gaze moving to the dots when you focus on her? As I said these considerations are not meant to be obvious. They are invitations to a visual dance.
I must also mention the fantastic blue shadow which Diebenkorn painted as a shape. We see a master permitting preceding masters to influence his work. We can all join this great tradition, whether we paint or love to engage through cultivated study.
Richard Diebenkorn - Woman with Newspaper - 122 x 86 cm - oil on canvas
This painting by Diebenkorn has an excellent example of what I like to term a pull, which is a shape, value or colour pulling the viewer from the focus of the composition. Master artists are very aware of the viewer’s perusal, and how to guide the eye away from the focus without competing. This is not easily accomplished and it takes time before you find what works for you.
Diebenkorn masterfully takes us from the focus of the girl’s head to the black coffee, which is beautifully supported with the similar values below. I hope you can feel the pull as it should not be obvious. If it’s too strong we would have competition which in Diebenkorn’s hands, has been superbly avoided.
This is orchestration and good artists resist formula. The continuity, or style, comes from knowledge combined with intuition and of course experience.
Now there is a great pause(which is not as strong as a pull) on the newspaper in the shape of a “U”, gently taking you from the coffee. Can you see the path? He guides us from her hair, to the cup, to the “U”, (where you pause), and then back to her head. There are other avenues to guide us as well, which I hope you enjoy discovering and appreciating.
I must also mention how the figure is beautifully integrated with the background at her left shoulder. Do you see how the white shape curls up to connect to her hair? And I love that black line leading in and forming her knuckles. Great integration. What a painter!
Richard Diebenkorn - Nude on Blue Ground - 1966 - 206 x 150 cm - oil on canvas
This painting is a great example of a great painter permitting another to influence his work. In the Matisse painting below (posted on Oct. 19, 2011), we see how he brought the background, or a spatial plane, in front of the figure’s right shoulder.
Diebenkorn used shadows to achieve the same result. The shadow below her chin seems to be part of the background as well, and I feel the sharp right angle is the key. You can also feel the sense of a spatial plane below her left breast and another beautifully considered right angle on her right arm which relates to the angle under her chin. (Blurring your vision may help)
This sophisticated consideration provides the feeling the figures occupying space.
I must also point out Diebenkorn’s superb integration of the figure’s right arm with the line leading to the bottom of the painting and how this supports her. I also love how her face comes forward, very impressive.
Being aware of these influences can be very beneficial for developing artist’s. Joining with this great tradition is a great way to develop as long as you understand the difference between being influenced and copying. You need to connect to the thought process and knowledge of the artists you choose.
Richard Diebenkorn - Large Still Life - 1966 - 164 x 178 cm - 64 x 70 in - oil on canvas
This painting has a great example of integration. Diebenkorn provides a very sensitive integration, where the vertical line on the table connects to the circle in the blue area. Note how the circle also integrates with a white rectangle on the table. I’m delighted with how he guides me through the composition.
This brings us to shape motifs, which I feel Diebenkorn had mastered. The primary motif of this composition is the rectangle supported by circular sub motifs. By using three rectangles he quickly engages the whole area with the viewer. If you don’t see them you will feel them for we take in shapes before subject matter.
He integrates the circles in the blue rectangle beautifully, with the shapes of the cup’s top and it’s shadow.
I love the pull in this painting, which is the ink bottle. I feel it’s just right. The viewer is pulled to the lower part of the painting then returns to the focal area. I say the area, for he has left for us to decide if the cup, the circle, or the red dot, is the focus. This level of sophistication is what we artists should strive for.
Remember there are no rules or formula other than knowledge and level of consideration as Diebenkorn has conveyed beautifully.
Richard Diebenkorn - Recollections of a Visit to Leningrad - 1965 - 183 x 214 cm - 72 x 84 in - oil on canvas
A great example of a notable artist permitting influence in their work. One could say this is a homage to Matisse.
The influence is obvious, but the painting is a Diebenkorn. Showing the feel of another artist’s considerations and not losing yourself is very important.
The composition has strong shapes and flatness, which he did so well. Yet the painting has depth without using perspective. All that is needed are a couple of obliques which accomplish this nicely.
Diebenkorn’s superb use of shapes permits colour to come forth and dance!
I must mention the rhythm of blacks taking you across the painting. They are wonderful notes relieving the strong verticals in the painting.
Henri Matisse - Interior with Eggplants - 1911 - 212 x 246 cm - 84 x 97 in - distemper on canvas