BY ALBERT CHEN
In a groundbreaking Christie’s public sale on November 9, 2023, Richard Diebenkorn’s seminal art work, “Recollections of a Go to to Leningrad,” achieved a record-setting worth of $46,410,000 US. Painted in 1965, this monumental canvas, measuring 181.3 x 211.1 cm, stands as a testomony to Diebenkorn’s transformative encounter with the works of Henri Matisse throughout a uncommon journey to the Soviet Union within the Nineteen Sixties.
Diebenkorn’s journey to the Soviet Union was a part of a cultural trade initiated by President John F. Kennedy and Premier Nikita Khrushchev. Throughout his go to, the artist immersed himself in Matisse’s masterpieces, notably these housed within the Pushkin State Museum of Effective Arts in Moscow and the State Hermitage Museum in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg). This expertise had a profound impression on Diebenkorn, inspiring a shift in his creative method in direction of abstracted planes of wealthy and vibrant coloration.
Richard Diebenkorn, born on April 22, 1922, a celebrated determine for his influential contributions to the artwork world, left an everlasting mark on summary expressionism and the Bay Space Figurative Motion through the Fifties and Nineteen Sixties. Within the late Nineteen Sixties, Diebenkorn entered a prolific section marked by the creation of his iconic sequence of geometric, lyrical summary work, famously generally known as the Ocean Park work. These masterpieces performed a pivotal position in propelling Diebenkorn to worldwide acclaim, establishing him as a luminary within the artwork neighborhood.
“Recollections of a Go to to Leningrad” serves as each an homage to Matisse and a documentation of the evolving artwork world within the Nineteen Sixties. Departing from his earlier dynamic brushwork and figurative components, Diebenkorn embraced daring geometric planes of jewel-like coloration. The composition, bisected by robust vertical strains, presents a extremely abstracted view of a panorama, paying homage to wanting by means of a window. The portray captures the essence of Diebenkorn’s exploration of inside versus exterior house, a theme he had been delving into for the reason that late Fifties.
The higher left quadrant of the canvas options extremely ornamental floral curlicues, a direct reference to Matisse’s revolutionary work, “Crimson Room (Concord in Crimson)” (1908). Diebenkorn’s interpretation, nevertheless, takes a extra capricious route with pronounced twists and turns, making a densely patterned and Nabis-like ornament.
Diebenkorn’s creative evolution was characterised by a continuing reinvention of his type. As a essential founding member of Bay Space Figuration, he launched human kinds into his abstractions within the mid-Fifties. Following his go to to the Soviet Union, he transitioned to the summary Ocean Park sequence, lauded by critics as one of the majestic achievements of the second half of the century.
The portray, showcased in important retrospectives, together with the Albright-Knox Artwork Gallery’s “Richard Diebenkorn: Work and Drawings, 1943-1976,” occupies a pivotal place in Diebenkorn’s oeuvre and postwar artwork. The distinctive provenance, with the present proprietor buying the portray in 1969, provides to its significance. “Recollections of a Go to to Leningrad” stays a masterpiece that signifies a vital second in Diebenkorn’s profession and the broader trajectory of postwar artwork, seamlessly mixing influences from European modernism with distinctly American components.
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