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If you are a Diebenkorn fan (as I am,) you will be dazzled by the new catalog for a show currently on view at the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos, New Mexico (though September 9, 2007.) The show features work from Diebenkorn’s two and a half year residence in Albuquerque in the early 1950s, and many of these images are being seen for the first time. They are lush.

Gerald Nordland is a well known expert on Diebenkorn, and he has written one of the three essays in the catalog. I found this passage particularly provocative in light of the ongoing discussion of Diebenkorn’s relationship to landscape (something I have written about earlier on this blog):

The Albuquerque paintings generally evidence a brighter-than-before palette of sandy and flesh colors; looping and energetic line; and rhythmic boldness to deposits of color-form which developed out of improvisations, revisions, and transitions. They have a toughness and a tenderness that reflect the Northern New Mexico landscape. Diebenkorn’s roughness of execution conforms to his distaste for finish, apparent in the segmentation of forms at the canvas edge, and his wish to reflect facture and materials. The directness became a positive element of his style. The natural phenomena that filtered into these creations are remote.

This body of work has been referred to incorrectly as Diebenkorn’s “abstract landscape” manner, for it implies that these works are somehow translated into abstractions from nature. Diebenkorn did say, “Temperamentally, perhaps I had always been a landscape painter, but I was fighting the landscape feeling; in Albuquerque I relaxed and began to think of natural forms in relation to my own feelings.”

Note: Many thanks to my lifelong friend Kevin Simmers for finding the catalog and bringing it to my attention. We have been paired in a passionate devotion to Diebenkorn’s work since we saw a show of his Ocean Park series while we were in college. All these years later and that passion has not cooled in either of us.