Richard Diebenkorn was born April 22, 1922 in Portland, Oregon. At the age of two, Diebenkorn's family relocated to San Francisco, California. From 1937 – 1940, Diebenkorn attended Lowell High School, moving onto Stanford University in 1940 where he concentrated in studio art and art history, studying under Victor Arnautoff and Daniel Mendelowitz.
Diebenkorn served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1943 to 1945, stationed in Quantico, Virginia, where he visited a number of important collections such as the Gallatin Collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC. During this time Diebenkorn experimented with abstract watercolor and representational sketches, these works would later be known as his wartime work.
In late 1955, Diebenkorn began working in representational mode, painting and drawing landscapes, figure studies and still lifes, departing from his early abstract period. In 1966, Diebenkorn moved from Berkeley to Santa Monica, California. It is here that his Ocean Park series was created and where he returned to his abstracted style of painting. In 1971, Diebenkorn had his first exhibition at Marlborough Gallery, New York.
In 1976-1977, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery organized a major retrospective, which traveled to Washington, DC; New York City; Cincinnati, OH; Los Angeles; and Oakland, CA. By this time, Diebenkorn had secured his status as an established American artist. In 1988, a major exhibition and book by the Museum of Modern Art's curator, John Elderfield, was created of Diebenkorn's works on paper, following the entire range of his stylistic journey through the 1980's.
Richard Diebenkorn died March 30, 1993 in Berkeley, California.