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 Diane Burko  (1945 - )

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania      Known for: exotic landscape painting-volcanoes

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Ad Code: 3
Diane Burko
Godafoss #6, 2004
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following was submitted in May 2002 and updated in May of 2006 by the artist:

For over thirty years, Diane Burko has been known as an American landscape painter, who celebrates the wilderness in panoramic views of the Grand Canyon, Himalayan peaks, and the coastlines of California, Maine, and France - and on a more intimate scale, the cultivation of nature found in parks and gardens such as Monet's in Giverny.  She has been guided by her investigation of actual locations, to confront its vistas, observe the skies, air, soil and vegetation as well as bodies of water.  Such journeys have taken her most recently to volcanoes in Iceland, Italy, Hawaii, Alaska, and Costa Rica.

However, lately, Burko is also pursuing her interest in photography.  She has transformed her digital inkjet prints, initially based on aerial views culled from 30 years of slide archives, into medium format images of the Pacific Northwest and most recently (2006) into large inkjet prints of mysterious abstracted/intimate scenes taken mainly from her environment in Bucks County. 

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1945, Burko graduated from Skidmore College in 1966 where she double majored in art history and painting.  She continued her study of painting earning an MFA in 1969 from the Graduate School of Fine Arts of the University of Pennsylvania and continues to live and work in Philadelphia.

In the 1970s, the towering peaks of the Himalayas, Alps, and Rockies were the subjects of a series of paintings based on magazine photographs.  Following her interest in depicting rocky terrain, Burko flew with Jim Turrell in 1979 to take her own aerial photographs of the Grand Canyon, which she used as visual guides for intense paintings and colored pencil drawings.  In the 1980s Burko took flight to photograph Pennsylvania's extensive rivers and waterways.  In the resulting prints and colored-pencil drawings, Burko began what would become a nearly twenty-year focus on capturing and manipulating the effects of light and shadow on water.  This interest led her up California's tumultuous seashore, along the coast of Brittany and Normandy, and settled her again in Normandy for a six-month residency at Monet's estate in Giverny in 1989 thanks to a Lila Acheson Wallace Fellowship.

In 1998, after completing a major One Percent public art project for the Marriott Hotel in Center City Philadelphia, Burko departed from the quiet, rolling woodlands and waters of the Wissahickon to turn her careful attention to the powerful and majestic phenomenon of the volcano.  She first discovered Irazu, Arenal and Poas on a  trip to Costa Rica.  The following summer she investigated volcanoes along the Aleutian chain of Alaska returning to her favored technique of chartering flights to make her own photographs from above the volcanic sites.  In 2000, she began studying and painting Kilauea on Hawaii's Big Island.  And thanks to a generous grant from the Leeway Foundation, she visited Hawaii’s Big Island and Maui in the fall of 2000 for extensive observation.  In the spring of 2001, she visited Sicily where she climbed Etna, Vesuvius and Stromboli as well as flying in a helicopter for images of the Aeolian Islands.  The Locks Gallery in Philadelphia featured all this work in a major exhibition in the fall of 2001.

The next project Burko undertook was in Iceland, which is the most volcanic country in the world.  In the summer of 2002 she devoted two separate trips exploring its volcanoes, as well as its glaciers, geysers, and waterfalls.  Two exhibitions resulted from that experience. One was at the Locks Gallery in September 2004. The other followed in February 2005 at Rider University.  

Diane has been working in an alternative medium, photography, along with painting since 2000.  In 2005 she formally introduced her inkjet prints in an exhibition at Rider University Art Gallery.  For over 30 years Burko has photographed the landscape as a preliminary step for painting.  Now she is creating photographic inkjet prints as primary works on paper.  For the work first shown she used scans of previously taken slides as well as images taken with a medium format camera (Fuji 6-45). Coloration and composition were manipulated through Photoshop.  Her work is printed on archival paper with an Iris or Epson 9600 printer.
Selected Periodical Listings:
Genocchio, Benjamin, "Landscapes That Push The Boundaries," The New York Times, September 14, 2003.
Rice, Robin, "Rio Grand," Philadelphia City Paper, August 28 - September 4, 2003.
"A River Runs Through It," American Artist, July 2003, Illus.
Vita, Tricia. "Molten Energy." Islands Magazine, April/May 2003: Illus.
2002 Fine, Elsa Honig. "Review: Diane Burko: The Volcano Series." Woman's Art Journal, Fall 2002/Winter 2003.

Hampton, Brad. "Diane Burko at Locks." Art in America, March 2002: Illus.
Rice, Robin. "Diane Burko." ARTnews, January 2002: Illus.

Sozanski, Edward, J. "Exhibits Spotlight PA Artists." The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 14, 2001.
West, Judy. "Fresh Perspectives." ARTnews, October 2001.
Rice, Robin. "Artistic Eruption, Diane Burko's paintings of volcanoes burst into Locks Gallery." Philadelphia City Paper, September 27 - October 4, 2001: Illus.
Harrington, Michael. "Volcanoes as Inspiration of a Whole Different Color." The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 21, 2001: Illus.
Sozanski, Edward, J. "Realistic Yet Intimate Views of Nature's Forms, Forces." The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 21, 2001: Illus.
Biberman, Jane. "Lava Lover." Philadelphia Metro, September 19, 2001.
Harrington, Michael. "Volcanoes by Burko." The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 16, 2001.
Jordon, Sarah. "Stepping Out, Visual Arts." Philadelphia Magazine, September 2001.
Ledger, Martha. "The Fire Within, Molten Lava Erupting from the Earth's Core Creates New Land and Inspires New Art." Inside, Fall 2001: Illus.

Salisbury, Greg. "Insiders: We Lava Her Work." Inside, Fall 2000: Illus.
Harrington, Michael. "Art." The Philadelphia Inquirer, Saturday Reviews Section, October 28, 2000 Illus.
Sozanski, Edward J. "New Directions and Some New Artists." The Philadelphia Inquirer, Friday, October 20, 2000: Illus.
Rice, Robin. "Winners: Five Leeway Grant Recipients and Two Pew Fellows Show Their Stuff at the Art Alliance." Philadelphia City Paper, October 12-19, 2000: Illus.

Wibking, Angela. "Natural Inclination: Painter Uses Her Brush to Connect with the Land." Nashville Scene, October 21, 1999: Illus.
McLean, Paul. "Public Art Exhibit: Nashville, What Kind of City Do You Want to Live in?" In Review, September 28, 1999: Illus.
Wibking, Angela. "Diane Burko at the Parthenon." Nashville Scene, September 1999.

Dormont, Linda. "Through the Heart of the City: Art Alliance Exhibition Celebrates River." Art Matters, May 1998: Illus.
Kasrel, Deni. "Integrating Public Art with City's Sightseers." Philadelphia Business Journal, May 1998.
"Mural Takes Shape at Hotel." The Philadelphia Inquirer, Thursday, March 5, 1998: Front page, Illus.
Rogala, Rachel. "Urban Pastoral." Philadelphia Weekly, March 10, 1998.
Seidel, Miriam. "Labor of Love: What went into the two-year process of Diane Burko's monumental murals, unveiled tomorrow at the Marriott Hotel?" Philadelphia Weekly, April 22, 1998: Illus.
Sher, Dena. "Wissahickon Painting Dedicated at Marriott." Chestnut Hill Local, April 29, 1998: Illus.

Guss, Carolyn. "Along and Along and Along the Wissahickon." The Pennsylvania Gazette, December 1996.
Hengst, William. "Wissahickon Mural at Marriott." Chestnut Hill Local, November 28, 1996.
Sozanski, Edward. "For Latest Project, She Focuses on Big Picture." The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 25, 1996.
Rice, Robin. "The Right Stuff Four Artists Talk About the Challenge of Cezanne." City Paper, June 1996.
Rickey, Carrie. "Cezanne at the Philadelphia Museum of Art." Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, May 1996.

Heller, Nancy G. "Diane Burko-Locks." Art News, December 1994: Illus.
Hibbard, Chris. "Diane Burko at Locks Gallery." Eye Level, Vol. I, #1, December 1994.
Beyer, Rita. "Magic of Nature in Burko Landscapes." Chestnut Hill Local, September 29, 1994: Illus.
Sozanski, Edward J. "Locks Gallery." The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 16, 1994.
Mangravite, Andrew. "Landscapes to Soothe the Human Heart." Welcomat, September 14, 1994: Illus.
Halpern, Alan. "High and Outside." Seven Arts Magazine, August 1994: Illus.

Rosenblum, Robert. "A Postscript: Some Neo Romantic Mutations." Art Journal-CAA, Summer 1993: Illus.

1992 Sozanski, Edward J. "Following Monet a Little too Closely." The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 4, 1992.

1991 Wilson, Janet. "Diane Burko's Lasting Impressions." The Washington Post, July 6, 1991: Illus.
Stein, Judith. "Diane Burko at Marian Locks." Art in America, May 1991: Illus.
Bumgardner, George. "Realist Oil Turns Nature Into Art." Ithaca Journal, April 26, 1991.
Biberman, Jane. "Back to Giverny." The Pennsylvania Gazette, March 1991: Illus.
Anderson, Alexandra. "Diane Burko, Marian Locks." Art News, March 1991: Illus.
"On the Monet." Garden Design, October 1991.
Fisher, Robert, I.C. "Giverny Revisited." American Artist, November 1991: Illus.

Sozanski, Edward J. "Revisiting the French Landscapes of Monet." The Philadelphia Inquirer, November 22, 1990: Illus.
Heller, Karen. "After 22 Years, Marian Locks has Her Space." The Philadelphia Inquirer, November 11, 1990.
Johnston, Roy. "Painting in Paradise." Skidmore Voices, Spring/Summer 1990: Illus.

Wilson, Janeet. "CAMEO Diane Burko: Painting Light in Monet's Shadow." Applause Magazine, December 1989: Illus.
Bertugli, David. "Portrait of the Artists." Inside Magazine, December 1989: Illus.
Matza, Michael. "Impression: Paradise." The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 17, 1989: Illus.
Stein, Judith. "Painting: An Update." Women Artists News, Spring/Summer 1989: Illus.

Homisak, Bill. "CMU Profiles Pennsylvania Painting." Tribune Review, May 1, 1988.
Sozanski, Edward J. "Diane Burko at Marian Locks." The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 7, 1988: Illus.
Gabriel, Claude. "Gallery Preview Diane Burko." SCAN Magazine, March 1988: Illus.
Altabe, Joan. "Artists' Landscapes Excite the Senses." Sarasota Herald-Tribune, February 21, 1988: Illus.

Weinstein, Ann. "Landscapes Really Show World Within the Artist." Roanoke Times and World-News, October 18, 1987: Illus.

Boyle, Richard. "Allentown Diane Burko." Art News, May 1983: Illus.
DeSantis, Tullio. "The Water's Fine in Her Drawings of State Rivers." Reading Eagle, May 8, 1983: Illus.
Hafamann, Albert. "The Waterways of Pennsylvania." Sunday Call-Chronicle, March 6, 1983: Illus.
Washabaugh, Ann Perry. "Burko's Waterway Art Recalls Landscape Genre." Globe Times, February 27, 1983: Illus.
Donohoe, Victoria. "A Lofty View of Pennsylvania." Philadelphia Inquirer, February 4, 1983.

Cohen, Ronny H. "Drawing the Meticulous Realist Way." Drawing, March April 1982: Illus.

Donohoe, Victoria. "The Print Club's Boost: It's 'Annual'." Philadelphia Inquirer, November 1, 1981.
Clurman, Irene. "Pencil Art." Rocky Mt. News, November 6, 1981.
Moss, Jacqueline. "Landscapes Today: An Important and First-Rate Exhibition at the Whitney." The Advocate, November 13, 1981: Illus.
Fudge, Jane. "The Power of the Pencil." Westword, November 26, 1981: Illus.
Morton, Deborah Wallace. "Philadelphia Artist Gets Wish." Eire Daily Times, August 3, 1981.
Wilson, Janet. "Philadelphia has to be Discovered." Art News, March 1981: Illus.
Reith, Stephanie. "Women Join the Mainstream." Artweek, February 1981: Illus.
Berlind, Bob. "Diane Burko at Stefanotti and PAFA." Art in America, February 1981: Illus.

Gately-Shafto, Sally. "Diane Burko: Drawings." Arts, December 1980: Illus.
Katz, Jonathan. "Review of Academy Show." Philadelphia Bulletin, October 5, 1980.
Donohoe, Victoria. "Review of Academy Show." Philadelphia Inquirer, September 26, 1980.
Ledger, Marshall. "Her Art is Wide Open." Today Magazine, Philadelphia Inquirer, September 7, 1980: Illus.
Stoddard, Ann Bruce. "The Greatness Machine: Do We Still Need It?" Women Artist News, March 1980.
Watkins, Eileen. "Rutgers Dual Exhibits." Sunday Star-Ledger, February 1980: Illus.

Schiller, Marlene. "Footnotes on the Cover." American Artist, December 1979: Illus.
Bass, Ruth. "Diane Burko." Art News, September 1979.
Dolice, Joseph L. "Art in the City." New York Downtown News, August 1979: Illus.
"Art-Line News About People in the Arts." Arts Arizona, Summer 1979.
McFadden, Sara. "Report from Philadelphia." Art in America, May-June 1979: Illus.
Likos, Patt. "Land, Sea and Sky." Women's Artist News, May 1979.
Lubell, Ellen. "Art Picks." Soho Weekly News, March 1979: Illus.
Marter, Joan. "Diane Burko." Arts Magazine, March 1979: Illus.

Foreman, Nessa. "Drawing Today, What is it?" Sunday Philadelphia Bulletin, September 1978.
Kaye, Ellen. "From Mountain Blue to Canyon Hues." Today Magazine, Philadelphia Inquirer, July 1978: Illus.

1977 Bourdon, David. "There's a New Kid or Two in Town." Village Voice, June 1977.
Grissom, Gary. "Diane Burko at Marian Locks." Art in America, May-June 1977.
Nemser, Cindy. "Interview with Diane Burko." Feminist Art Journal, Spring 1977.

Frank, Peter. "Review of O.K. Harris Show." Art News, November 1976.
Malen, Lenore. "Diane Burko." Arts Magazine, December 1976: Illus.
Donohoe, Victoria. "Gallery Highlights." Philadelphia Inquirer, November 1976. Illus.

Nemser, Cindy. "Humanizing the Art World." Feminist Art Journal, Winter 1975.
Cochran, Diane. "Diane Burko: Going Places." American Artist, June 1975. Illus.
Donohoe, Victoria. "FMC Corporation Turning a Day at the Office into a Major Art Experience." Philadelphia Inquirer, August 1975: Illus.
Kaplan, Jillya Ruth. "Her Art Classes as Pilot Project." Evening Journal, January

Forman, Nessa. "Artists Find Stimulus in Camera's Clues." Sunday Philadelphia Bulletin, November

1972: Illus.
"Aerial Landscapes Catches Attention of Allentown Art Museum Judges." Morning Call, June 1971: Illus.

Diane Burko, The Volcano Series, Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA; Essay: Carter Ratcliff, 2001.
Artists of the Commonwealth: Realism in Pennsylvania Painting, 1950-2000, Pennsylvania Museum Partnership Program: James A. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, PA; Erie Art Museum, Erie, PA; Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Greensburg, PA; and Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, Loretto, PA, 2001.
The Leeway Foundation: 2000 Awards for Artists in Painting, the Leeway Foundation, Philadelphia, PA; Essay: Edna Andrade, 2000.
Through the Heart of the City: An Exhibition with the Schuylkill River as the Source of Inspiration, Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, PA; Essays: Ann Hitchins, Stuart Fineman, Henry Dean, 1998.
Diane Burko, Land Survey: 1970-95, Payne Gallery, Moravian College, Bethlehem, PA; Essay: David Bourdon, 1995.
Diane Burko, Luci ed Ombra di Bellagio The Light and Shadow of Bellagio, Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA; Essay: Robert Rosenblum, 1994.
Diane Burko, Reflets Paintings from Giverny, Marian Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA; Essay: John Perreault, 1990.
Hard Choices/Just Rewards, Levy Gallery for the Arts, Moore College of Art, Philadelphia, PA; Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, Loretto, PA; Blair Art Museum, Hollidaysburg, PA; Johnstown Art Museum, Johnstown, PA; 1989.
Diane Burko, Marian Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA; Essays: Lawrence Alloway and Lenore Malen, 1988.
Searching Out the Best, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA; Essays: Frank Goodyear, Linda Bantel, Judith Stein, Peter Frank, 1988.
The Face of the Land, Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, Loretto, PA, 1988.
A Decade of Visual Arts at Princeton: Faculty 1975 1985, The Art Museum, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ; Essay: Allen Rosenbaum, 1985.
Waterways of Pennsylvania: Drawings and Prints by Diane Burko, Allentown Museum of Art, PA; Essay: Richard J. Boyle, 1983.
Painters of the Pennsylvania Landscape, Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, Loretto, PA, 1983.
Perspectives on Contemporary American Realism Works of Art on Paper from the Collection of Jalane and Richard Davidson, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA; Essay: Frank Goodyear, 1982.
Mary H. Dana Women Artists Series 1981-1982, Rutgers University, Douglass College, New Brunswick, NJ, 1982.
New Directions: Contemporary American Art From the Commodities Corporation Collection, edited by Sam Hunter, 1981.
The American Landscape: Recent Developments, Whitney Museum of American Art, Fairfield, CT, 1981.
Women and Art, Suzanne Browne Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ; Statement: Erma Bombeck, 1981.
Visitors to Arizona 1846 to Present, Phoenix Art Museum, Tucson Art Museum, AZ; Text: James K. Ballinger, 1980.
20th Century American Painting, American Embassy, Moscow, RUSSIA, 1980.
Trends of the 1970's, Moravian College, Bethlehem, PA; Text: Dr. Charlene Engle, 1980.
Diane Burko Distinguished Alumni Exhibition, Skidmore College Art Gallery, Saratoga Springs, NY; Essay: Dr. Joan C. Siegfried, 1979.
Diane Burko, Genesis Galleries, Ltd., New York, NY; Essay: David Bourdon, 1979.
Contemporary Drawings: Philadelphia I, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA; Essay: Frank Goodyear, 1978.
Contemporary Landscape Image and Idea, Queensborough Community College, Bayside, NY; Essay: Lenore Malen, 1977.
Objects &: 8 Women Realists, University of Massachusetts at Amherst; Essays: Anne Mochon and Miriam Levin, 1973.

Biography from LewAllen Galleries:
As a painter for more than forty years focused on the creative depiction of geological landforms, Philadelphia artist Diane Burko works to pictorially capture natural phenomena. An avid photographer as well as painter, Burko culls inspiration for her representational landscape paintings from firsthand viewpoints of outdoor settings, often snapped from open doors of aircraft or on arduous hikes in treacherous terrain. In the words of New York Times art critic Benjamin Genocchio, Burko’s exhilarating works are “landscapes on the edge, or at least beyond our usual experience…”

Burko vigorously applies paint application and as a colorist imbues even the most representational scenes with unexpectedly abstract qualities, suffusing them with distinctive intimacy and power.

In scenes of still woodland ponds, for example, she places emphasis on water’s mirror-like qualities of reflection; for majestic waterfalls  she works to depict sound and energy. Elsewhere, stark grids of green grass and brown dirt are juxtaposed with stretches of red earth to delineate areas of contrast.

In this way, Burko  hopes to initiate a dialogue between representation and abstraction, challenging viewer notions of their mutual exclusivity and instead affirming their ability to intersect purposefully and even necessarily. She converges technical precision with emotional engagement to focus less on description of place and more on experiencing of it.

Exhibition venues include Art Institute of Chicago, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Tang Museum, Aldrich Museum, James A. Michener Art Museum, Philadelphia Academy of the Arts, Woodmere Art Museum, National Academy of Sciences and Princeton’s Bernstein Gallery at the Woodrow Wilson School.

Her works are held in the collections of Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Delaware Art Museum and Art Institute of Chicago.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

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