Portland-born, California raised, Richard Diebenkorn rose above being a west coast artist and became an international influence.
He went on to Stanford University and after graduation he enrolled in the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco where he also taught for several years. He was on the road to developing his own vigorous style of abstract expressionism, evolving as an artist from representational landscapes and figurative works.
In 1964 he was invited to visit the Soviet Union on a Cultural Exchange Grant from the U.S. State Department where he saw the paintings of Matisse at the Hermitage in Leningrad and the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. They had been unavailable to most of the world for decades. Those paintings exerted tremendous influence on Diebenkorn's later series, “Ocean Park “paintings.
In 1967, Diebenkorn moved to Santa Monica and took up a professorship at UCLA. He moved into a small studio space in the Ocean Park area of Santa Monica .The paintings were based on the view from his studio window. Like Matisse, he lived near the sea and was inspired by the beautiful colors or blues, aqua and yellows of that landscape. His new work was a sharp contrast with the organic forms of his Abstract Expressionist work of the 1950's, showing a much more geometric and planned approach. This series became his most famous and appreciated works. His paintings are in many collections and major museums. In 1991, Richard Diebenkorn was awarded the National Medal of Arts.