Richard Diebenkorn Value: Top Prices Paid At Auction

Sheena Carrington
written by Sheena Carrington,
Date of publication2 Jul 2024
Last updated4 Jul 2024
Ocean Park #20 by Richard Diebenkorn - Sotheby's Image © Sotheby's / Ocean Park #20 © Richard Diebenkorn 1969
Leah Mentzis

Leah Mentzis, Partnerships Manager[email protected]

Interested in buying or selling
Richard Diebenkorn?

Browse artworks
Richard Diebenkorn

Richard Diebenkorn

15 works

Richard Diebenkorn, a celebrated American abstract artist, left a lasting mark on the art world through his iconic Ocean Park paintings meticulously created in Santa Monica, California. These works represent the peak of his artistic achievements, alongside his equally acclaimed contributions across various periods. Diebenkorn's success in the art market is underscored by the rarity of his paintings, making them highly coveted, while his prints, more widely available yet equally prized, hold considerable value and are coveted additions to collectors' collections.

£37.8M for Recollections of a Visit to Leningrad

($46,410,000 (USD))

Image © Christie's / Recollections of a Visit to Leningrad © Richard Diebenkorn 1965

Remaining in a private collection since 1969, Recollections of a Visit to Leningrad (1965) boasts an extensive exhibition history and is celebrated for its incorporation of Henri Matisse's influences. Its floral foliage set against an abstract backdrop creates a window-like effect into the outdoor scenery. With vibrant colours, this artwork foreshadows Diebenkorn's Ocean Park series, bridging the gap between his figurative and abstract works while reflecting the art market's shift from Abstract to Pop Art. Offered at auction in November 2023, it ranked among the top five highest-selling works, setting a new record for Diebenkorn with a final price of £37.8 million including fees.

£19.4M for Ocean Park #40

($27,265,500 (USD))

Ocean Park #40 by Richard Diebenkorn - Sotheby's Image © Sotheby's / Ocean Park #40 © Richard Diebenkorn 1971

Diebenkorn dedicated two decades to crafting his iconic Ocean Park Series, renowned for large canvases with softly-hued geometric compositions. Despite its name, the series' origin lies in Diebenkorn's Santa Monica residence, not maritime inspiration. He focused on capturing light's dynamic interplay rather than literal landscapes. Ocean Park #40 (1971) visually divides into two segments, yet its complexity defies simple categorisation, with geometric shapes and hues intersecting intricately. This work set Diebenkorn's auction record up until 2021, selling for £19.3 million at Sotheby’s in May.

£17.7M for Ocean Park #126

($23,937,500 (USD))

Ocean park #126 by Richard Diebenkorn - Christie's Image © Christie's / Ocean Park #126 © Richard Diebenkorn 1984

Diebenkorn draws on a lineage from Abstract Expressionism to Modern painting, notably Paul Cézanne and Matisse, for inspiration. His works achieve intricate spatial geometry through line and colour, blending distinct sections into unified expanses with enduring softness. Despite painting with his back to the sea, works like Ocean Park #126 (1984) evoke oceanic shores with upper and lower segments resembling sandbanks, shaped by light interplay. Diebenkorn embraces chance and imperfection, evident in visible drips and gestures. Ocean Park #126 sold for £17.6 million at Christie’s in May 2018, showcasing Diebenkorn’s mastery and market appeal.

£17.7M for Ocean Park #137

($22,587,500 (USD))

Ocean Park #137 by Richard Diebenkorn - Christie's Image © Christie's / Ocean Park #137 © Richard Diebenkorn 1985

Emerging from Diebenkorn's later Ocean Park Paintings, Ocean Park #137 (1985) stands out as a significant work from the 1980s, occupying one of his largest canvases. While comparisons to abstract expressionists like Mark Rothko and the geometric precision of Piet Mondrian are tempting, Diebenkorn's legacy resonates uniquely. Similarities can be seen with British Abstract painters adapting to evolving landscapes, exemplified by Sir Terry Frost. Diebenkorn's distinct identity shines through his precise colour technique and nuanced approach to geometric variations. With a storied provenance from Knoedler & Co. to Venice Beach, California, and once owned by Mary Tyler Moore and Dr. S. Robert Levine, Ocean Park #137 fetched £17.6 million at Christie’s in November 2018.

£9.2M for Ocean Park #56

($11,424,500 (USD))

Ocean Park #56 by Richard Diebenkorn - Sotheby's Image © Sotheby's / Ocean Park #56 © Richard Diebenkorn 1972

Ocean Park #56 (1972) showcases subdued colour palettes, highlighting Diebenkorn's prowess as both a colourist and abstract artist capable of creating an atmosphere that resonates with its title. The expansive, hazy blue evokes the ocean, complemented by a strip of light brown taupe at the top, accented with hints of pink and green reminiscent of sand and vegetation. Held in the artist's estate until 1993, this work boasts a notable exhibition history. When it came to auction in November 2023, Ocean Park #56 achieved a sale of £9.2 million, firmly establishing itself among Diebenkorn's highest-selling works and underscoring continued demand for his art.

£8.5M for Ocean Park #48

($13,522,500 USD)

Ocean Park #48 by Richard Diebenkorn - Christie's Image © Christie's / Ocean Park #48 © Richard Diebenkorn 1971

Diebenkorn numbered his Ocean Park Paintings chronologically, with Ocean Park #48 (1970) serving as an early cornerstone of this iconic series. Defined by a dominant mineral ochre hue, the work embodies Diebenkorn's signature softness, complemented by subtle lines and deeper colour accents that add depth to the canvas. Before immersing himself in the Santa Monica-based Ocean Park series, Diebenkorn explored subdued colour schemes in his earlier Albuquerque Paintings while at the University of New Mexico. Ocean Park #48 reflects Diebenkorn's adeptness at balancing composition and manipulating diverse colour tones, capturing his environment's reflections with each brushstroke. This piece achieved £8.5 million at auction in November 2012.

£8.1M for Ocean Park #55

($10,953,500 (USD))

Ocean Park #55 by Richard Diebenkorn - Sotheby's Image © Sotheby's / Ocean Park #55 © Richard Diebenkorn 1972

Diebenkorn's artistic evolution spans phases: Abstract Expressionism, mid-career figuration, and a pivotal return to Abstraction in the 1960s. This period saw his work surge in popularity, marked by a profound shift in style, maturing from early vibrancy to refined compositions. Ocean Park #55 (1972) presents a muted colour palette and fluid brushstrokes that evoke sensuousness. This work was presented at Sotheby's in May 2018 and achieved £8.1 million solidifying Diebenkorn's enduring legacy in art history.

£7.7M for Berkeley #32

($9,922,500 (USD))

Berkeley #32 by Richard Diebenkorn - Christie's Image © Christie's / Berkeley #32 © Richard Diebenkorn 1955

Before settling in Los Angeles, Diebenkorn began his artistic journey in Berkeley, marking a distinct phase in his creative evolution. His early work in Berkeley combined abstract figuration, a style he later departed from in the 1950s as he transitioned to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Berkeley #32 (1955) encapsulates this stylistic shift, inspired by aerial landscapes observed during his flight. The painting’s interplay of colours and black lines vividly captures not just the land's topography but also signifies Diebenkorn’s journey toward a more fluid artistic expression. Auctioned in May 2019, Berkeley #32 achieved £7.7 million, highlighting the appeal and demand of Diebenkorn's artistic exploration during varied phases of his career.

£7.4M for View From A Porch

($9,034,300 (USD))

View From A Porch by Richard Diebenkorn - Sotheby's Image © Sotheby's / View From A Porch © Richard Diebenkorn 1959

View From A Porch stands as a rare masterpiece in Diebenkorn's oeuvre, part of a series of five expansive landscapes created in 1959, with three housed in prestigious museum collections. This work has been extensively exhibited, underscoring its lasting impact. Diebenkorn's debt to Matisse is vividly apparent, seen in the rich interplay of colour and meticulous layering evident in the white and yellow borders, lush green grass, and placid blue sky. The canvas's edge-to-edge paint application foreshadows his later Ocean Park Paintings. Inspired by linear persepectives, this creation offers a unique, luminous view creating the illusion of depth and space, selling for £7.3 million at Sotheby's in June 2020.

£7.2M for Ocean Park No. 46

($11,085,000 (USD))

Ocean Park No. 46 by Richard Diebenkorn - Sotheby's Image © Sotheby's / Ocean Park No. 46 © Rochard Diebenkorn 1971

Ocean Park No. 46 (1971) represents an earlier work from Diebenkorn's distinguished Ocean Park Painting series, exuding a luminous quality with its seamless application of off-white tones across the canvas. The upper portion features geometric abstractions in light blue and beige, contrasting with bold horizontal lines in red and dark green. A slender vertical yellow line adds vibrancy and depth to the composition. Symbolically, the light blue and off-white hues evoke the serenity of the sea and sandy shores. Through its harmonious composition and grid-like structure, Diebenkorn guides viewers into the essence of Ocean Park. This artwork achieved £7.2 million at auction.

Leah Mentzis

Leah Mentzis, Partnerships Manager[email protected]

Interested in buying or selling
Richard Diebenkorn?

Browse artworks
Richard Diebenkorn

Richard Diebenkorn

15 works