It was a welcome reprieve from the emotional roller coaster since the inauguration. I like so many people have been consumed by the daily assault on our democracy. Making phone calls, writing letters, reading Facebook posts from my local Move-on.org group, Defending the American Republic, and taking action whenever possible.
In order to keep my sanity I maintain my daily meditation and art practices. The luxury of going to Baltimore before the Matisse/Diebenkorn Exhibition closed January 29, 2017 was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. The exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art really was more of a Diebenkorn retrospective than a Matisse and Diebenkorn Show. The Matisse paintings and drawings while amazing were really there to illustrate their influence on Diebenkorn. Matisse's color palette, composition, patterning of tapestries, cloth and wallpaper can all be seen in Diebenkorn's paintings.
One of Matisse's painting especially stands out in my mind, that of Notre Dame, a Late Afternoon. The almost monochromatic palette and structure of the painting took my breath away. Although smaller in scale than Diebenkorn's landscapes hung next to it, it more than held its own. That was true of most of the Matisse paintings in comparison to Diebenkorns'.
The exhibit followed his career chronologically. Exhibiting paintings first from his New Mexico period, the brief period in Illinois, his figurative period followed by the Ocean Park paintings. He maintained a practice of drawing the figure throughout his life.
From the beginning of Diebenkorn's oeuvre, even dating back to the abstracts done in New Mexico, he divided his canvases into sections deploring thinner lines as section dividers that would culminate in the simplified Ocean Park period. Even in the figurative works the composition's background are often divided into the grid.
Diebenkorn's high key color palette was evident throughout his career until being muted in his late Ocean Park paintings.
The painterly quality throughout Diebenkorn's oeuvre is awe inspiring and never more so than in his figurative period. Very often he used dark colors which he later applied lighter colors over with brush stokes which revealed the darker paint underneath. The depth created is so beautiful and captivating.
Seated Figure with Hat is an excellent example.
I have several books of Diebenkorn's drawing but I don't think I have ever seen one in person. They were truly remarkable to study up closed. The line quality, honesty and directness of his use of medium whether pencil, charcoal, conte, ink or any combination was a feast for the eye. Several of my favorites were included. A charcoal with wiped out drawings beneath was even more powerful person.
I am so glad I had the opportunity to see the show. It now travels to San Francisco. See it if you can.