Doğançay retrospective presents 50 years of art

Doğançay retrospective presents 50 years of art

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Doğançay retrospective presents 50 years of art

One of the leading names of Turkish contemporary art, Burhan Doğançay will present 14 periods of the artist’s work, now in prominent collections worldwide, at the ‘Fifty Years of Urban Walls: A Burhan Doğançay Retrospective’ at Istanbul Modern.

For its new show, Istanbul Modern is presenting a comprehensive exhibition of 50 years of work by Burhan Doğançay, one of the leading names of contemporary art in Turkey. “Fifty Years of Urban Walls: A Burhan Doğançay Retrospective” will present 14 periods of the artist’s work, now in prominent collections worldwide. Sponsored by Yıldız Holding, the exhibition displays Doğançay’s half-century-long artistic career. The show will be held between May 23 and September 23, 2012 in Istanbul Modern’s Temporary Exhibitions Hall and is curated by Levent Çalıkoğlu.

Burhan Doğançay, who says “walls are the mirror of society”, has been exploring since the 1960s the social, cultural, and political transformation of modern and contemporary urban culture through walls. As an urban traveler, for half a century he has been mapping walls in various cities worldwide. From posters to slogans, and messages with sexual content to serious newspaper clippings, like an anthropologist he has been examining these surfaces that are open to all the interventions of time. He depicts the way personal narratives and messages shape walls in public spaces, and through social and political images, points to the social transformations in urban life. The diversity in Doğançay’s work comes from the series he treats using different styles and techniques.

An archive of 30,000 photos
Since his days in school, Doğançay has traveled to the four corners of the earth and explored urban cultures. Since the 1970s he has photographed walls in all of the 114 countries to which he traveled. Recreating urban walls on the canvas surface, Doğançay’s 50-year-long odyssey proceeds parallel with his photographic career. He compiles photographic archives of urban walls around which his work is centered, and, drawing from this resource, he performs his “wall art.” Today the artist’s extensive archive exceeds 30 thousand photographs. In 1982 he held a photography exhibition entitled “Les murs murmurent, ils crient, ils chantent…” at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

Billboard, the first work in his series “General Urban Walls” begun in 1963, serves as an introduction to both the exhibition and Doğançay’s wall art. The retrospective continues with the series “Doors,” “Detour,” “New York Subway Walls,” “Breakthrough,” “Ribbons,” “Cones,” “Housepainter,” “Grego Walls,” “Formula I,” “Double Realism,” “Walls of Alexander,” “Blue Walls of New York,” and also “Framed Walls,” a series the artist started in 2008 and is currently ongoing.

In 1965, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York purchased his work Billboard, which was the first time a work by Doğançay had been included into the permanent collection of a major museum. Today the artist’s paintings of walls can be found in prominent museums worldwide and in major institutional and private collections.

His works are now part of over 70 prominent museum collections around the world including the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the British Museum in London, the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, and the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

With his work Ribbon Mania being included this year in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Doğançay has become the first Turkish artist to have entered this collection.

The exhibition catalog, which will help share Doğançay’s work with a wider audience, was sponsored by Yıldız Holding. Published by Prestel Publishing, based in Munich, it will be sold worldwide. In his catalog article “The Recording of History and the Anatomy of Walls,” exhibition curator Levent Çalıkoğlu writes about the artist’s 50-year-long career. Brandon Taylor, Professor of Art History at the University of Southhampton, continues the analysis he began in his 2008 book “Urban Walls” in which he wrote about the works of Doğançay. Also among authors in the catalog is Richard Vine, editor of the magazine Art in America. Vine individually refers to the series and works in the show and accompanies his explanations of the artist’s work with biographical details. Finally, Clive Giboire’s article analyzes all of Doğançay’s series and examines the techniques developed by the artist over time.