Key Ideas about this Work of Art
- This abstract landscape painting is part of Richard Diebenkorn’s Berkeley series. He created the series while he was living in Berkeley, California.
- The artist created contrast in this painting by using the warm colors of the New Mexico landscape (his former home) and the peaceful blue colors of the San Francisco Bay.
- Diebenkorn was inspired by landscapes and by abstract expressionism, an art movement in which artists created work that expressed their feelings instead of portraying a realistic subject.
Richard Diebenkorn’s paintings are often called abstract landscapes. Berkeley No. 8 is part of his Berkeley series of more than 65 paintings he created while living in Berkeley, California. During that time he developed his expressive art style and experimented with creating both abstract and more realistic, or representational, paintings.
Berkeley No. 8 shows the artist’s perceptions of color and space. The painting’s composition (reportedly inspired by aerial views of the American Southwest) is made up of blocks of color. Diagonal elements split and break up the horizontal elements of the design. Diebenkorn created a sense of light and contrast by combining the earthy colors of New Mexico (his home before he moved to California) with the soft, blue colors of the Pacific coast.
“All paintings start out of a mood, out of a relationship with things or people, out of a complete visual impression.” -Richard Diebenkorn
He was inspired by the landscapes that surrounded him and by abstract expressionism, one of the most significant art movements of the 20th century. Abstract expressionist painters used shapes, colors, and lines to create art that expressed their feelings and beliefs. They did not want to create paintings that looked realistic. Diebenkorn often improvised when he painted. Rather than planning his work, he used a technique called automatism. This technique involves letting go of control and creating without thinking about the final product.
tags: shape, artist’s process, place, order, perspective, subjectivity
Resources for Teachers:
- Review a lesson plan about abstract painting and its connection to sound.
- Explore an enrichment activity about art and movement.
- View other paintings in the artist’s Berkeley series.
Resources for Students: