Label Text: A young woman sleeps, unaware of the viewer’s gaze. Her head resting on her arm forms a strong focal point that is echoed by the horizontal placement of her thigh. A mirror in the upper right corner reflects the scene and opens the space, while at the same time emphasizing the figure’s isolation.
Diebenkorn’s fluid application of paint and active brushstrokes show the expressionist quality that he maintained throughout his career. Richard Diebenkorn started his career as a member of the Abstract Expressionists, a group of artists who explored the creative properties of paint in completely non-realistic artworks. But Diebenkorn began to question his abstract paintings as early as 1955.
Feeling as if something was missing, he returned to figurative painting, creating smaller works depicting single figures against an abstracted backdrop. The Sleeping Woman is an early work in this more representational painting style.