February 6, 2018

Painting by Richard Diebenkorn of a Horse and Rider, made with oil on canvas.
Richard Diebenkorn, Untitled (Horse and Rider), 1954. Oil on canvas, 21 x 24 in. (53.3 x 61 cm). ©Richard Diebenkorn Foundation

The David Owsley Museum of Art will be the sole Midwestern venue for Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942–1955, a traveling exhibition that includes many paintings and drawings that have never before been publicly displayed. The exhibition will be at DOMA from February 1 to May 20, 2018.

The exhibition puts DOMA in prestigious company. The other venues in 2018-19 are the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, Portland (Oregon) Art Museum, the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University, and Academy Art Museum in Easton, Maryland. Organized by the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation in Berkeley, California, in conjunction with the Crocker Art Museum, this exhibition shows how Diebenkorn (1922-1993) was influenced in his early years and how his work evolved from figuration (portrayals of something in the real world) to abstract then back to figuration.

The exhibit traces 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. Accompanied by a fully illustrated scholarly publication by Crocker Art Museum Associate Director and Chief Curator Scott A. Shields, the exhibition counters the prevailing notion that Diebenkorn began his career as a painter in the Abstract Expressionist style.

“Though his evolution was rapid, Diebenkorn did not suddenly arrive on the scene as an Abstract Expressionist prodigy,” said Shields. “He investigated many styles and ideas to get there.”

Robert G. La France, director of the David Owsley Museum of Art, said museum visitors will see that like many beginning artists, Diebenkorn borrowed from other artists and was influenced by his surroundings and experiences such his first commercial airline flight.

“It is how Richard Diebenkorn became Richard Diebenkorn,” he said. “Few people realize that Richard Diebenkorn was not an exclusively California artist. He developed aspects of his personal style while in the Southwest and Midwest, specifically nearby in Urbana, Illinois. We are proud to be the only Midwestern venue to host this major exhibition and hope to expand public awareness of Diebenkorn’s early work.

“Diebenkorn’s beginnings are a particularly appropriate topic for a university art museum. The subject invites current students to examine the artist’s education and results of his youthful experimentation with various styles and media.”

Focused exclusively on paintings and drawings made between 1942 and 1955, Beginnings features 100 works from the collection of the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation, most of which have never before been publicly exhibited. These little-known works range from World War II drawings and watercolors of soldiers and military bases, to abstractions that unite the forms of Surrealism and the fractured planes of Cubism, to gestural works on paper. The show concludes with one of the artist’s first mature figurative paintings, his 1954 Untitled (Horse and Rider), laying the foundation for the representational drawings and paintings soon to come (1955–1966).

Public Programs
Several programs and events related to the exhibition are planned at DOMA, including:

  • February 8—Music in the Museum: Beginnings. James Helton, Ball State professor of piano performance, plays his selections for Richard Diebenkorn, Beginnings, 1942-1955, including Bach,
  • Mozart, and mid-20th century American music. 5 p.m. reception, 6 p.m. performance.
  • February 11—Adult Painting Workshop led by Ball State Professor of Art Scott Anderson.
  • April 8—Youth Painting Workshop led by Michael Prater, Ball State associate professor of art education.
  • April 19—Petty Memorial Lecture, Richard Diebenkorn: Beginnings, 1942-1955 by Scott Shields, associate director and chief curator, Crocker Art Museum.

For more information and the latest updates on these and other programs, visit bsu.edu/DOMA.

About The David Owsley Museum of Art
The David Owsley Museum of Art (DOMA), at Ball State University, houses a world art collection with over 11,000 works from Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands, Europe, and the Americas. DOMA balances exciting interdisciplinary art exhibitions with engaging displays of the permanent collection in an educational environment that serves both the University and the East Central Indiana region.

DOMA is located on Riverside Avenue and the Quad. It is open seven days a week: Monday–Friday from 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. and Saturday–Sunday from 1:30–4:30 p.m. (closed on University holidays). Admission is free. Parking is available at the McKinley Parking Garage.

About Richard Diebenkorn Foundation

The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation expands knowledge and fosters appreciation of the artist and his role in central artistic developments of the 20th century. The Foundation increases public access to Diebenkorn's work and understanding of his legacy and times through support of exhibitions, loan of artworks, research, publications, archival services, and digital initiatives.

In 2016, the Foundation debuted Richard Diebenkorn: The Catalogue Raisonné (Yale University Press). This seminal 2,000 page reference contains more than 5,000 works illustrated in stunning new color photography and exhaustive documentation. The new diebenkorn.org provides unprecedented public access to the artist’s work and archives.