A formidable painter and independent spirit, Richard Diebenkorn remained a resolutely West Coast artist despite the dominance of the New York art scene. He was among the few individuals who navigated between abstract and figurative modes of painting with critical success over the course of his career. Beginning in the late 1940s, Diebenkorn periodically turned to printmaking as a means of reevaluating his creative process and reworking his ideas, eventually completing approximately two hundred prints. Preferring to work in intaglio mediums, he established an important collaborative relationship in the 1960s with printer Kathan Brown at Crown Point Press.
In the mid-1950s Diebenkorn began working in a loose figurative style that he developed after abandoning the abstraction for which he had first received attention. In 1966 he embarked on a monumental abstract series that would occupy him for the next twenty years, the approximately one hundred fifty paintings entitled Ocean Park. Named for the Santa Monica neighborhood where he had a studio, the large-scale Ocean Park paintings deal with concerns of space and surface in a luminous palette inspired by the California landscape around him.
Despite his inherent abilities as a colorist, Diebenkorn had long resisted using color in his prints, in part because he feared that technical difficulties would prevent him from achieving the results he desired. However, with Brown’s encouragement, he began the series Eight Color Etchings in 1980. This group, which includes Large Light Blue, successfully translates the formal concerns, aesthetic sensibility, and luminescent, transparent, layered color of the Ocean Park paintings. Pleased with the results, Diebenkorn continued making color prints in a variety of techniques until his death in 1993.
Publication excerpt from an essay by Sarah Suzuki, in Deborah Wye, Artists and Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2004, p. 147.