Acclaimed artist Richard Diebenkorn’s masterpiece “Horizon-Ocean View” is on public display in the University of Montana Office of the President reception area in Main Hall through May 24. The painting is on loan to the Montana Museum of Art & Culture through a private collection.

Diebenkorn is known for late modernist paintings characterized by geometric forms, a bright palette and thick brushwork influenced by distinctive California light. Considered one of the most important American painters of his generation, Diebenkorn reinvented representational painting in the 1950s. Though well established as an abstract painter, he suddenly began to work in a representational mode, creating landscapes, figure studies and still lifes. During this time, he and a group of fellow artists became known as the Bay Area Figure Painters.

Diebenkorn created representational paintings between 1955 and 1966. His work from this period is characterized by relatively flat areas of color, unusual perspectives and the division of space by strong lines. In these paintings, he evokes the hazy coastal light of southern California. Diebenkorn’s landscapes of this era became important precursors to the abstract paintings and drawings known as the Ocean Park series, the work for which he is best known.

He grew up in San Francisco and attended Stanford University and the San Francisco Art Institute. In 1956, he showed the first of nine exhibitions at the influential Poindexter Gallery in New York City, which furthered his national reputation and shifted the focus of the art world to California. “Horizon-Ocean View” was included in his 1997 retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.

The painting is available for viewing during the Office of the President’s public hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, except during University holidays.

For more information call MMAC at (406) 243-2019 or go to the museum’s website at

Reach the Missoulian newsroom at @missoulian, at or at (406) 523-5240

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