Artwork Detail

Berkeley #7
American, 1922–1993
Oil on canvas
47 3/4 x 43 "
Gift of Joseph Pulitzer, Jr., 1962
WU 4019
Richard Diebenkorn, like fellow painters Sam Francis, Mark Rothko, Hassel Wendell Smith Jr., and Clyfford Still, was associated with West Coast Abstract Expressionism, a variant of the New York School. In the 1950s Diebenkorn’s abstract work was celebrated but also often set apart from the work of his East Coast contemporaries by critics who aligned its expressive qualities with the expansive landscapes of the American West. Berkeley #7 is one of a group of over fifty paintings and hundreds of drawings and watercolors the artist completed between 1953 and 1955, during his early abstract period, after moving to Berkeley, California. In the painting’s upper region, a large zone of subtly modulated brown is bisected and bordered by fleshy biomorphic shapes, while in the lower section smaller interlocking pink, yellow, and blue shapes create a more intense cluster of forms. This combination of large areas of color with smaller stacked, undulating forms as well as the earth tones of these paintings have been read as references to horizontal strata or rectilinear fields and, more specifically, to the hills and cliffs of the Bay Area. [Exhibition label, 2015]