Knoedler Fakes Give Rise to Diebenkorn Catalogue Raisonné

When fakes showed up, the need for an inventory became obvious.

After 21 years in the making, Yale University Press will release a catalogue raisonné of the works of Richard Diebenkorn, the California painter who forged a distinct West Coast brand of Abstract Expressionism, in October 2016. It’s the first exhaustive catalogue of the artist’s work.

The project is a direct result of the need for a definitive catalogue after the emergence of fake Diebenkorns being offered on the market by the disgraced dealer Ann Freedman at New York’s Knoedler & Company gallery. Those works began to show up just a year after the artist died, in 1993.

Richard Diebenkorn, <i>Ocean Park #98</i> (1997). Courtesy Richard Diebenkorn Foundation.

Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park #98 (1997). Courtesy Richard Diebenkorn Foundation.

The four-volume set will survey the artist’s unique works, including sketches, drawings, paintings, and sculpture. Weighing in at 2,000 pages, the publication catalogues more than 5,000 works and include an essay by art historian John Elderfield, former chief curator of painting and sculpture at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, among other contributors. Overseeing the project is curator Jane Livingston, who organized a 1997 retrospective of the artist at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art.

Richard Diebenkorn, photographed by Leo Holub. Courtesy Richard Diebenkorn Foundation.

Richard Diebenkorn, photographed by Leo Holub. Courtesy Estate of Leo Holub.

Born in Portland, Oregon, Diebenkorn lived most of his life in the San Francisco Bay Area, studying art and art history at Stanford University and studying at the California School of Fine Arts on the G.I. Bill after two years in the Marine Corps. He would later teach there; among peers was painter Clyfford Still. Diebenkorn would move to Los Angeles in 1966 to teach at the University of California, settling in a neighborhood known as Ocean Park, the name that would attach to many of his works thereafter.

Diebenkorn showed his work with the Marlborough Gallery and Knoedler & Co. in New York, and had a nationally traveling retrospective in 1976–77, organized by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, in Buffalo, New York. Elderfield organized a major show of his work in 1988–89. The artist’s works are in dozens of public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Diebenkorn’s auction high currently sits at $13.5 million, set for one of his trademark canvases, Ocean Park #48 (1971). That price was paid in November 2012 at Christie’s New York. Ten of the artist’s canvases have sold for more than $5 million since 2007.


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