David Carrier Painting As If From the Model: Richard Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park Series

In 1943 Richard Diebenkorn, who then was twenty-one, was stationed at Officer Candidate School in Virginia. He paid close attention to Henri Matisse’s Studio, Quai St. Michel (1916) nearby in the Phillips Collection, Washington D.C. Painted at a dark moment during the previous world war, it shows an image of his model Lorette in progress on the easel. “She had a theatrical gift for transformation, switching from ethereal purity to luxuriant abandon, seeming to change mood, age, even size as readily as she tried on costumes.”i “Nothing like this had ever happened,” Hilary Spurling adds, “in Matisse’s studio before.” In 1916, he was making a difficult artistic and personal transition. Having done his boldest experimental art, he was unsure about how to proceed. Three years later he moved south, leaving behind his family, turning to focus on representing life within his studio.