Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park #83, 1975, oil on canvas, Corcoran Collection (Museum Purchase with the aid of funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the William A. Clark Fund, and Margaret M. Hitchcock), 2014.136.127
Best known for his
Green is widely considered to be Diebenkorn's greatest print and was a highlight of the Yes, No, Maybe: Artists Working at Crown Point Press exhibition, presented at the National Gallery in 2013. The print came into the collection in 1996, and now three outstanding preliminary impressions, known as proofs, of Green have been added. The earliest proof of Green has so much gray wash, it is arguably more watercolor than print; and the last has so many pasted-on elements, it is arguably more collage than print.
After roughing out a composition and printing it in black, Diebenkorn would work back in—"attacking," he said, select passages and revising through gradual, often numerous, changes. These modifications would typically occur in the print's periphery. Although seemingly minor, their cumulative effect could be transformative. A mark resembling an infinity sign in the upper left of the first proof is camouflaged in the last one. And a curve in the lower left of the first proof gradually morphs into what looks like the upturned tail of a cat. In the final print, that tail is absorbed into a volcano-shaped mound. Diebenkorn was alert to how each change in a composition, no matter how minor, could alter its dynamics. He set his artistic course to an elusive "rightness," a term he regularly invoked and navigated by following an intuitive sense of what worked, reassessing and adjusting as he went along.
In conjunction with the purchase of the three proof impressions of Green,