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Sketching a farm community in Northern California (ca.1940)
Nature study (ca.1939)
Nature and character studies (ca.1940)
Untitled portrait (ca.1939)
Untitled portrait (ca.1940)
Untitled nude (1939)
Untitled factory scene (ca.1940)
Los Angeles (1939)

Drawings often provide the basis for fully realized works of art, reflecting the thought process of an artist’s vision. In other endeavors, the drawing itself may be the work of art, executed in pencil, charcoal, or ink, or serving as the template for an etching or a serigraph. Dietrich’s drawings were both a means to an end and an end unto themselves. Both his early and later drawings show the prominent role they played in his ongoing development as a fine artist, as seen in his earliest nature and figural sketches, and his later works, consisting of stylized portraits and nudes or meticulously detailed streetscapes and factory complexes. Dietrich called his early time spent in San Francisco “the best of times for my graphic productivity and artistically an inspirational period,” citing the “scattering of artistically intriguing motifs” that could be found in and around the city—from the wharfs along the south bay region to the truck-farming communities along the coast, later immortalized in a series of evocative etchings. Diverging widely both in content and style from the vivid and fantastical oil paintings and oils-on-paper that would come to characterize his later work, these early sketches and drawings provide a rare glimpse into the artist’s early development, showing his experimentation with a variety of mediums and subject matter that would ultimately inform his growth and maturation as a fine artist.

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