Coming to Pepperdine: Richard Diebenkorn

By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief

Starting January 12, the Pepperdine University Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art will house “Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942-1955”—the first exhibition to solely examine the work the artist, best known for his “Ocean Park” series, made prior to his turn to figuration.

The American painter and printmaker has been associated with abstract expressionism (the focus of this exhibition) and the Bay Area Figurative Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

“‘Beginnings’ focuses on the artist’s stylistic and technical origins in oil, watercolor, gouache, ink, crayon and collage, tracing Diebenkorn’s evolution from representational landscape, to semiabstract and Surrealist-inspired work, to his mature abstract expressionist paintings from the Sausalito, Albuquerque, Urbana and early Berkeley years,” Pepperdine explained in a press release.

The Pepperdine exhibition, which will feature approximately 75 pieces, most of which have never before been publicly exhibited, was organized by the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation, based in Berkeley, in conjunction with the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento.

The works range from World War II drawings and watercolors to abstractions that combine surrealism and cubism.

“We are thrilled to welcome ‘Beginnings,’” said Michael Zakaian, director of the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art, in a statement. “Many of the early images, influences and references that later defined Diebenkorn’s mature drawings and paintings began here in Southern California.

“Of course, he would return, moving from the Bay Area in 1966 to Santa Monica, where he taught as a professor in the art department at UCLA until 1973 and produced his epic painting cycle, the Ocean Park series.”

The work will be on display through March 31, with an opening reception planned for January 13 from 2 to 4 p.m.

For more information, including museum hours, visit 

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