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oil paintings

San Francisco (ca.1940)
The High Jumper
Tropical Fantasy
The Race
Sierra Reflections
Billowing Sails
Polo Players
Rites of Spring

One of Dietrich’s earliest memories involved him sitting on his mother’s lap and gazing up at the window, where a morning sky had suddenly lit up in a cascade of color and light of cosmic proportions. In the decades to follow, the artist would dedicate himself to recapturing the awe and wonder of that childhood moment through the tools and techniques of painting oils on canvas. However, before doing so, he had to learn the process itself, and in doing so, embark on a journey toward artistic self-expression. A study of Dietrich’s early oils on canvas from the late 1930s and early 1940s suggest that he may have been initially drawn to the impasto technique, which was so famously perfected by Van Gogh and characterized by thick layers of paint where the texture of brush strokes or a palette knife were clearly visible. His experimentation with impasto proved to be temporary, though, as he began exploring other techniques. Similar to what he had done in the past as a child and as a student at the American Academy of Art, he returned to his study of the Masters, whether that entailed seeking to emulate the haunting figures and complex landscapes of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Dürer, or the seamless integration of contrasting light and shadow—known as chiaroscuro—to evoke the subtle dynamism perfected by Caravaggio, Murillo and Rembrandt. By the early 1960s, he had not only found his artistic voice, but also an audience of interested patrons, as he received important mural commissions for the Union Federal Bank and the Prudential Insurance buildings in Los Angeles, and mounted a vernissage at the Beverly Hills home of William Tishman, breaking all prior attendance records in that city for a private event. After securing a place in Southern California’s fine art community by the close of 1963, Dietrich would continue to explore a range of subjects over the next 35 years that would include floral fantasies, figural works, landscapes, cityscapes, horses, sailboats and sporting scenes depicted through a harmonious interplay of color, shadow and light that informed over 2,000 works that were exhibited and sold domestically and abroad.

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