Robert Rauschenberg versus Richard Diebenkorn
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Robert Rauschenberg. “Estate" 1963 lllOil and silkscreen ink on canvas. 96 x 70 in. oo
Richard Diebenkorn."Berkeley Landscape" 1954Oil on Canvas. 50 x 98 in.
nnnnnn Robert Raushenberg and Richard Diebenkorn were contemporary artists with very different styles, values, and purposes. Both worked during the era of Abstract Expressionism, and both were interested in portraying the American landscape. However, location greatly divided them as Rauschenberg lived and worked in New York City, the epicenter of the Avant-Garde, while Diebenkorn was a devoted West Coast painter who spent most of his life in California, aside from short stints in Albuquerque and Illinois. Thus, their methods and goals differed greatly, and the results can clearly be seen in the paintings above.
gggkkkRauschenberg was consumed with the hustle and bustle of an urban environment. He studied the effect of a space crowded with people and events as well as the complexity of the fragmented lifestyle. He sought to keep up with the most current trends of the art world. On the other hand, Diebenkorn was inspired by the open, expansive landscape of the West and the tranquility that it evoked. Because he was separated from the fast-paced, more judgmental East Coast scene, he maintained his own style taking inspiration from earlier groundbreaking artists like Matisse and Cezanne. Like past masters, Diebenkorn stayed true to the painting world, never experimenting with other media. Whereas, Rauschenberg used a variety of resources including found objects and photographs. He often created collages because he felt they appropriately reflected the disjointed sensations of city life. Painting was rarely his primary mode of expression.
lkkkkkkRauschenberg’s “Estate” from 1963 exemplifies this technique. It is a collage made from different city images, including a stop sign, street signs, apartment buildings, and the ultimate symbol of New York City, the Statue of Liberty. They are patched together in what looks like a haphazard way. The artist uses paint as emphasis in the work to add color and drama to the scene. It looks like there is fire coming from behind the buildings. Though “Estate” does not have a traditional composition, it has still not reached a point of absolute abstraction.
lklkkkk“Berkeley Landscape” by Diebenkorn comes closer to attaining an abstract point, in that its parts are not easily distinguishable. The Bay Area was one of the locations that inspired an entire body of Diebenkorn’s work in his early abstract phase. The emotion and palette of this painting greatly contrasts that of Rauschenberg. He captures California light between the blue of the ocean and the golden hillsides as opposed the black and dirty New York images of Rauschenberg. His compositions often include a number of horizon lines that move across the page. Diebenkorn left obvious brushstrokes in his paintings because he liked there to be evidence of reworking. Rauschenberg’s segment of painting in “Estate” is surprisingly similar to the regions of color and strokes in Diebenkorn’s.
jjjjjjjjjjIn conclusion, the art of Richard Diebenkorn and Robert Rauschenberg highlight two different roads taken by American artists during the height of Abstract Expressionism. They also demonstrate the power of location and ideals to shape artistic expression.