A modest work on paper, “Untitled (View From Studio, Ocean Park)” from 1969, suggests that Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park works were as much a response to basic, readily available natural and manmade forms as the Arizona paintings were a response to landscape. Divided into three basic registers, the top shows the extended plane of an open transom window, the middle captures the gabled roofs of houses and the arcing fronds of palm trees, while the bottom suggests the messy translucence of a very dirty pane of glass. It is a slice of the world as the artist might well have seen it from his studio, but it is also a repository of basic angles, shapes and rudimentary tricks of perspective.
The Ocean Park works that would follow are by no means all derived from this early drawing, which came after the earliest work in the exhibition, “Ocean Park No. 6,” from 1968. But just as the Arizona paintings share a connection with traditional landscape, the 1969 drawing and several other works from this period still feel tethered to still life, landscape and even portraiture. “Ocean Park No. 6” looks as if a standing human form is seen from behind a scrim or veils, and one might think it was a farewell of sorts to the human form, except that Diebenkorn had already toggled between abstraction and figurative work, and he was not the sort of artist who would commit himself to leaving anything useful behind as a matter of principle.