Diebenkorn has long been among my favorite abstract painters. There's something about his work that resonates with me, but I realize I knew very little about his life or about the long arc of his career before seeing this show, which helped to educate me a little. For example, I was almost completely unaware of the figurative work he did during the middle of the period covered here. Judging from the paintings included, Diebenkorn focused briefly on figurative subjects mostly between about 1956 and 1958. These works are sandwiched between earlier, purely abstract works characterized by flat patches of color (often in pinks, ochre, and other fleshy tones) and later abstract work with a greater emphasis on line. It's the earlier abstract work (roughly between 1953 to 1955) that I enjoy most. It was a real pleasure to stand in a large room surrounded by about 15 large works from the early period. Berkeley No. 3 (1953, below) is typical.
I've never before seen so many of Diebenkorn's works collected together. It's not often that I immediately want to go back again to see a show I've just walked through, but I hope to visit the Diebenkorn show once more before it leaves the DeYoung. Well worth a visit—or two. There is much to see here. The show runs through September 29.