Girl on the Beach, 1957
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Richard Diebenkorn entered Stanford in 1940, where he would receive his first formal art training. One of Diebenkorn’s earliest works is a Hopper-like cityscape from 1943 called Palo Alto Circle. Diebenkorn started painting abstract work in the late 1940s, but returned to representational painting after moving to Berkeley in the 1950s, becoming a key player and teacher in the Bay Area Figurative Movement. Girl on the Beach is from the artist’s prolific Berkeley years (1953-1966), and shows Diebenkorn’s interest in the relationship between landscape and the human figure. Geometric shapes, like the band of sky and sand and the triangular form of the thigh, interact with the organic curves of shadow and color in Girl on Beach. Although the girl is depicted reading outside, there is a feeling of domestic intimacy to her restful position on the sand and beach chair. Rather than the interior trappings of domestic space, elements of the natural world—light, sand, and the horizon—are home for Diebenkorn’s girl.