While living in Berkeley in the early 1960s, Richard Diebenkorn painted a group of representational canvases depicting views of the city and the surrounding landscape. Here, a street is fronted on one side by a row of low, nondescript buildings and on the other by open fields and empty lots. The horizon line is high, and the palette is dominated by cool hues of green, blue, gray, and white, offset by the sandy patch of earth on the right and a small area of red at the extreme left. Diebenkorn based the painting on an existing cityscape, but he left out all the buildings on the right side of the street, creating a flatter, more geometric composition.


  • Title: Cityscape #1
  • Creator: Richard Diebenkorn
  • Creator Lifespan: 1922 - 1993
  • Creator Nationality: American
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: Berkeley, California
  • Creator Birth Place: Portland, Oregon
  • Date Created: 1963
  • Physical Dimensions: w1282.7 x h1530.35 in (overall)
  • Type: painting
  • Rights: © The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation
  • External Link: SFMOMA
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Subject: Berkeley, United States
  • Place Part Of: United States
  • More Info: Watch: Richard Diebenkorn: Inspired by natural light, More About This Artist - SFMOMA
  • Credit Line: Purchase with funds from Trustees and friends in memory of Hector Escobosa, Brayton Wilbur, and J. D. Zellerbach
  • About the Artist: Richard Diebenkorn grew up in San Francisco and attended Stanford University, and later the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute). Although well established as an abstract painter, Diebenkorn returned to figuration in the mid-1950s. He incorporated the dominant expressive painting style into representational canvases, often landscapes. In 1966, he moved to Santa Monica and returned to quasi-geometric abstraction, though his work continued to evoke the landscape and hazy coastal light of Southern California. Like his earlier works, Diebenkorn's later abstractions allow the accumulated drawn and painted traces of his painstaking process to remain visible. In 1988 he returned to live in Northern California, where failing health forced him to concentrate on small-scale works until his death five years later.

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