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 Burhan Dogancay  (1929 - 2013)

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Lived/Active: New York / Turkey      Known for: wall-inspired painting, abstraction, figural

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Ad Code: 2
Burhan Cahit Dogancay
An example of work by Burhan Dogancay
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information is from Angela Dogancay

Burhan Dogançay was born in Istanbul, Turkey in 1929. He  is primarily known for a body of work that grew out of his fascination with urban walls; they have a special meaning to him and it is that obseravtion that he transformed into art. Walls serve as a testament to the passage of time, reflecting social, political and economic change. They also bear witness to the assault of the elements and to the markings left by people. No other artist has explored urban wall as thoroughly and with the same passion Dogançay has. His persistent occupation with and translation of urban walls into art is what earned him a reputation as “father of wall art”. The opening in 2004 of the Dogançay Museum, Turkey’s first contemporary art museum, constituted the crowning of  Dogançay’s career. He lives and works in New York where he has maintained a studio for the past 40 years.

In his effort to relate art to a deeper understanding of humanity, Dogançay has extensively traveled and photographically documented urban walls in over 100 countries. From these travels he has amassed an archive of over 25,000 slides, images of which were first featured in 1982 in a one-man exhibition at the Georges Pompidou Center, Paris, from where the exhibition traveled during three years in France, Belgium and Canada.

In the mid 1980s, Dogançay embarked on another extensive photographic documentary of the birth a skyscrapers in Manhattan and the major restoration of the Brooklyn Bridge. 19 of his large-scale photographs involving the repair of the Bridge are currently on exhibit at JFK International Airport, New York. 53 photographs from this unusual series are featured in duo-tone in a book, titled Bridge of Dreams, which was published in 1999 by Hudson Hills Press.

Education: First art lessons were given by his father, the well-known painter, Adil Dogancay, and Arif Kaptan, also a well-known Turkish painter.
1950: Law Degree: University of Ankara, Turkey
1950-55: Attends courses at L’Académie de la Grande Chaumiere, Paris
1953: Doctorate in economics: University of Paris, France
Selected One-Man Exhibitions:
1956-59: Art Lovers Club, Ankara
1964: Ward Eggleston Galleries, New York (Watercolors)
1976: Gallery Baraz, Istanbul
1977: Kunstsalon Wolfsberg, Zurich
1977: Gallery Engstrom,Stockholm
1978: Gimpel & Weitzenhoffer Gallery, New York
1981: Foster Harmon Galleries, Sarasota, Florida
1982: Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (Les Murs murmurent)
1982: Baukunst-Gallerie, Cologne
1983: Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (Les Murs murmurent)
1983: Musée d’Art Contemporain, Montreal (Les Murs murmurent)
1987: Hamideh Bayley Gallery, New York (Two Decades of Walls)
1987: Gallery Nev, Istanbul
1989: Seibu Museum of Art-Yurakucho Art Forum, Tokyo
1990: Galerie du Génie, Paris
1990: Gallery Torso, Odense, Denmark
1992: State Russian Museum, St.Petersburg (Walls & Doors 1990-91)
1993: Atatürk Cultural Center, Istanbul (Walls 1990-93)
1994: Nicholas Alexander Gallery, New York (Doors & Walls)
1996: Hooks-Epstein Galleries, Houston (New York-New Heights)
1999: Radio House Gallery, New York (The Rebirth of the Brooklyn Bridge)
2001: Dolmabahçe Cultural Center, Istanbul (A Retrospective)
2001: Kennedy Museum of Art, Athens, Ohio (Dogançay-Wall Paintings from the Museum collection)
2003: Siegerlandmuseum, Siegen, Germany (Walls of the World)
2005: Institut Français d’Istanbul (Tapisseries d’Aubusson)

Selected Group Exhibitions:
1965: Solomon R.Guggenheim Museum, New York (Some Recent Gifts)
1970: Finch College Museum of Art (Artists at Work)
1972: Pace Gallery (Printmakers at Pace)
1975: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (Recent Acquisitions)
1977: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (From the American Collection)
1991: Lehman College Art Gallery (Collage: New Applications)          
1999: The Museum of the City of  New York (The New York Century)
2000: Marburger Universitaetsmuseum, Marburg (Kunst der Gegenwart: 1975-2000)
2004: Telfair Museum of Art, Savannah, Ga. (New on View: Recent Acquisitions to the Permanent Collection)
2001: Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY (Outside In)
2005: Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York (Looking at Words)
2006   Toledo, Ohio: Toledo Museum of Art, Recent Acquisitions: Works on Paper
Fredonia, N.Y.: Rockefeller Arts Center Art Gallery, Connoisseurship
2007  Istanbul: Santralistanbul, Modern and Beyond
2008  Istanbul: Pera Museum: Collage-Décollage: Dogançay -Villeglé  (May 2 - July 15, 2008)  
2009  Biel: CentrePasquArt, Collage-Décollage: Dogançay –Villeglé (June 29 - August 31, 2009)
Salzburg: Museum der Moderne, SPOTLIGHT. Neuzugänge seit 2006
Istanbul: Gallery Isik, Soyut (Abstract) (May 14 - June 11, 2009)          
2009-2010  Berlin:  Martin-Gropius-Bau , Istanbul Next Wave (12 Nov. 2009 -17 Jan. 2010)        
Selected  Museum Collections:
Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria, Canada; Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece: Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Council of Europe, Strasbourg; European Parliament, Brussels; Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Norman, Oklahoma; Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis; Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna; John & Mable Ringling Museum, Sarasota, Fla.; Kennedy Museum of Art, Athens, Ohio; Los Angeles County Museum, Los Angeles; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art; MoMA, New York; Musée de Grenoble, Grenoble; Museet for Fotokunst, Odense, Denmark; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Vienna, Austria; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C; Nordjyllands Kunstmuseum, Aalborg, Denmark; Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs, Cal.;Telfair Museum of Art, Savannah,Ga.; The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Newark Museum, Newark, NJ; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia; Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, OH; University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The British Museum, London; The Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; The State Russian Museum; Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich; MuMoK, Vienna; Musee de Grenoble, Grenoble; Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland Kunstmuseum Bern, Bern, Switzerland, Kunsthalle Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany

Awards & Fellowships:   
2005 - Contribution to the Arts Award given by the International Contemporary Art Exposition, Istanbul
- Art Honor Award given by the Art Forum Plastic Arts Fair, Ankara
2004 - Honorary doctorate from Hacettepe University, Ankara
- Painter of the Year Award given by Sanat Kurumu, Ankara
1995 - National Medal for the Arts for Lifetime Achievement & Cultural Contribution given by the President of the Republic of Turkey
1992 - Medal of Appreciation given by the Ministry of Culture of Russia
1984 -  Enka Arts Arts & Science Award, Istanbul
1969 -  Tamarind Lithography Workshop Fellowship, Los Angeles
1964 - Certificate of Appreciation by the City of New York
Taylor, Brandon. Urban Walls: A Generation of Collage in Europe and America. New York: Hudson Hills Press, 2008
Blanchebarbe,Ursula. Walls of the World. Bielefeld: Kerber Verlag, 2003
Lascault, Gilbert. Dessine-Moi l’Amour. Paris: Syros-Alternatives, 1992
Lopate, Phillip. Bridge of Dreams. New York: Hudson Hills Press, 1999   
Moyer, Roy (ed.). Dogançay. New York: Hudson Hills Press, 1986
Rona, Z. (ed.). Dogançay: A Retrospective. Istanbul: Duran Editions, 2001
Vine, Richard. Burhan Dogançay: Works on Paper 1950-2000. New York, Hudson Hills Press, 2003

Additional Information:;

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Following is the obituary of the artist in The New York Times

Burhan Dogancay, Artist Inspired by Urban Walls, Dies at 83
Published: January 20, 2013

Burhan Dogancay, a Turkish-born artist considered one of his country’s first internationally recognized abstract painters, died on Wednesday in Istanbul. He was 83.

The cause was cancer, his wife, Angela, said.

Mr. Dogancay, who divided his time between homes in Istanbul and New York, was the first contemporary Turkish artist to have his work included in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In a country commonly defined as the cultural international date line between the Middle East and the West, Mr. Dogancay was best known for his artwork on the subject of walls. Old urban walls covered in graffiti and posters interested him most. The more cluttered, weathered and layered by generations of human announcements, the better.

He traveled for years collecting wall images from more than 500 cities to make the paintings and collages he presented at the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris in 1982 in a one-man exhibition titled “Walls That Whisper, Shout and Sing.”

“The walls I am drawn to have been worked on by nature and by human beings, so that they provide a mirror of their respective neighborhoods,” he once said in an interview. “They are speaking walls.” He added: “Wall messages are constantly changing, new ones replacing old ones, old ones covered up or distorted by the elements. The whole human experience has been reflected on walls, beginning with cave drawings.”

Mr. Dogancay produced some 4,000 paintings, many of them abstract collages in three dimensions like Ribbon Mania, a 1982 piece acquired by the Met in 2011.

His work has been exhibited in more than 70 museums, including the British Museum, the Guggenheim Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Levent Calikoglu, the chief curator of the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, said in an e-mail on Thursday that Mr. Dogancay’s art drew from the many cultural traditions — European, Middle Eastern, American, ancient and modern — that intersect in contemporary Turkey. In Mr. Dogancay’s work, he said, New York subway walls and the walls of the most remote Turkish village speak to a common humanity.

Born on Sept. 11, 1929, in Istanbul, Burhan Cahit Dogancay was the first of three children of Adil and Hediye Dogancay, both members of Western-educated middle-class families. His father, an army officer and noted watercolorist, was his first art instructor.

Despite Westernizing influences in Turkey and the establishment of a democratic, secular government in 1923 after centuries of Ottoman rule, the country’s art remained fairly untouched by modernism during Mr. Dogancay’s childhood. Museums, which were state run, displayed mainly traditional or representational art. Mr. Dogancay told interviewers that he did not see his first Impressionist or Expressionist painting, or a Picasso, until 1950, when he graduated from the University of Ankara and left for Paris.

He went there to study economics at the University of Paris; but from 1950 to 1955, when he received his doctorate, he took art courses and began painting in his spare time. He was director of the Turkish republic’s tourism office in New York in 1962 when he decided to become an artist full time. Within two years he had his first show in Manhattan.

His wall motif was inspired by the streets of New York, he said. “At first I was primarily interested in the decayed, deteriorated surface of walls,” he wrote in a 2009 book of his work. But in the kaleidoscope of posters and graffiti competing to be seen on the walls of the city, above and below ground, he began to recognize a kind of archaeological depth, he said. It revealed “the testimonials of human beings expressing and communicating” their history.

In the 1980s, his interest in walls led Mr. Dogancay to photograph skyscrapers under construction in Midtown Manhattan. Friendships he developed with iron workers made it possible for him to photograph their restoration work on the Brooklyn Bridge. His pictures, many of which required climbing the bridge’s cables to dizzying heights, were published in his 1999 book, Bridge of Dreams: The Rebirth of the Brooklyn Bridge.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Dogancay is survived by two sisters, Ayten and Tulin.

In an interview last year with the online journal Artlifemagazine, Mr. Dogancay was asked how urban walls had changed since the 1960s and ’70s, when many of the posters and leaflets festooning them carried messages of political protest. “Walls are clean now, because there is social media and computers,” he said, adding, “The youth are not as angry as they were.”

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