Richard Diebenkorn will always be associated with the ascendance of Abstract Expressionism in America. Along with Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, and other seminal figures of the 20th century, Diebenkorn redefined the boundaries — and public acceptance — of an art form that interpreted the world by avoiding obvious figuration. Throughout his career, though, Diebenkorn went back and forth between abstraction and figuration — a careening captured in precise detail by the de Young Museum's new exhibit, "Richard Diebenkorn: The Berkeley Years. 1953-1966." On display are such works as Woman By the Ocean, Seated Man, and Knife in a Glass, where people and objects are front and center. "One of the most interesting polarities of art is between representation, at the one end of the stick, and abstraction, at the other end," Diebenkorn once said, "and I've found myself all over that stick." Diebenkorn had a way with words, but he preferred to put his feelings onto canvases. And his Berkeley works are full of deep meaning, making this exhibit — the first one to spotlight Diebenkorn's Berkeley years — a must-see for anyone with even a faint interest in the work of an artist who spent decades of his life in the Bay Area. The exhibit traces the artists who influenced Diebenkorn (including Motherwell and Elmer Bischoff) and the experiences that also had a profound impact on Diebenkorn and the art he would produce until his death in 1993.