Category Archives: Bay Area Figurative Movement

Elmer Bischoff

Among the Bay Area figurative painters, the impassioned works of Elmer Bischoff serve as a perfect counterpoint to the cool abstractions of Richard Diebenkorn. Bischoff, a Berkeley native, returned after World War II to the area to paint, to teach and to become one of the most instrumental founding artists of the Bay Area figurative art movement. His work stands apart in exceptional color intensity and raw emotional force. From his early foray into Abstract Expressionism, there remains an amazingly loose and fluid gestural brushwork imparting high drama and lyricism to his works. Otherwise quiet subjects bristle and seethe with life through vigorously worked surfaces. Altogether — an intoxicating body of works, varied and captivating — Bischoff always leaves me wanting more.

Richard Diebenkorn: Selected works from his Berkeley period, figurative phase (c. 1955–1967)

This period of Richard Diebenkorn’s work, positioned between his earlier abstract expressionism and his later defining Ocean Park series, is particularly captivating. In these works, the excitement of both Diebenkorn worlds meld. Gestural brushwork, lush colors punctuated with occasional vivid stripes, curves, carry the emotion of the works. His figures are self-contained and seem incidental to the emotion of the works, yet are appealing in that emotional distancing. Scintillating and rich color, painterly surfaces, pulsate and  radiate an emotional warmth, heat. A heat that Diebenkorn brilliantly filters through a cool, controlled abstraction of form. In these marvelous works, reside the essentials of his Ocean Park series.