Istanbul, Turkey: Burhan Dogançay is the first of three children born to Adil Dogançay, a well-known painter and topography officer in the Turkish army, and his wife, Hediye.
Dogançay starts drawing at the age of four. His father encourages his son’s talent and often takes him with him on tours of duty in the countryside so they can draw together.
During his high school years in Ankara, he takes courses with Arif Kaptan, a well-known painter, whose emphasis, like his father’s, is on drawing.
Plays soccer on the Ankara team Gençlerbirligi.
After finishing high school, he enrolls at the University of Ankara, from which he graduates with a law degree.
Goes to Paris to continue his studies. To learn French, he stays for several months in Honfleur, the coastal town once popular with the Impressionists. There he plays soccer with the local team, paints, and shows his watercolors at Madame Boutiron’s fishmonger’s shop.
Fluent in French, he returns to Paris to study economics at the Université de Paris and attend art courses at L’Académie de la Grande Chaumière.
Travels to Denmark, where he does research for his doctoral thesis: “Le Rôle de la Coopération et les Progrès de l’Agriculture Danoise” (The Role of Cooperatives and the Progress of Danish Agriculture).
Travels to Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy.
Participates in group shows at the American House at the Cité Universitaire, Paris.
In order to supplement his meager allowance, he acts as a stand-in for Ronald Shiner during the filming of the British movie Innocents in Paris, and performs various other odd jobs, including acting as a night guard at the American student’s residence at the university, tending bar, and sweeping the floor of an American church.
Receives a doctorate in economics from the Université de Paris.
Has a calcification surgically removed from his right lung and spends about six months convalescing in a sanatorium near Paris, where he paints watercolors of the surroundings, a surviving work on paper being Spring in Paris II.
After his recovery he travels around France before returning to Istanbul from Marseille on the Ankara, the same ship that initially took him to France.
Returns to Ankara and begins to work for the Ministry of Commerce.
First joint exhibition with his father at the Art Lovers Club, Ankara.
Second joint exhibition with his father at the Art Lovers Club, Ankara.
As Director of the Turkish Pavilion at the World’s Fair in Brussels, Dogançay meets Princess Grace of Monaco, King Baudouin of the Belgians, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, and many other distinguished dignitaries and celebrities.
Is appointed director of the Turkish Tourism Department. Represents Turkey and the Middle East at the XIV General Assembly of the World Tourist Conference in Manila.
Travels around the world and visits the United States for the first time.
Third joint exhibition with his father at the Art Lovers Club, Ankara.
Five of his paintings are chosen for the Twenty second Annual State Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture in Ankara.
Posted to New York as Director of the Turkish Information Office.
In spite of long work-filled days on the 58th floor of 500 Fifth Avenue, Dogançay still finds time for his art, even returning late at night to paint the Manhattan skyline from his office windows. His cityscape watercolors are well received.
Dogançay undergoes carpal tunnel surgery on his right hand, which requires a two-week hospital stay of painful recovery. He later captures this period in several watercolors.
Represents Turkey in the World Show exhibition at Washington Square Galleries, New York, which includes works by other up-and-coming artists such as Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, and Willem de Kooning.
Chooses urban walls as his leitmotif and starts recreating on paper a few of the public walls that he has observed in the streets of Manhattan. This marks the start of his ongoing General Urban Walls Series. From this point on, Dogançay strives to bring the expression ‘wall art’ into the art world’s lexicon.
Resigns from his government post to realize his childhood dream of being a full-time painter. Starts searching the streets of New York for inspiration and raw materials for his collage and assemblages.
Has his first exhibition in the United States at Ward Eggleston Galleries in New York. Although the exhibition is a critical success, no works are sold.
Receives a Certificate of Appreciation from the City of New York in recognition of his interpretation of New York City in a collection of 80 paintings.
Meets and is befriended by Thomas M. Messer, Director of The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Messer significantly influences Dogançay’s career, urging him to stay in New York and face the City’s challenges.
His watercolors of New York are featured on the cover of the Journal American issues of January 3 and August 8.
Billboard (1964) is acquired by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, and becomes Dogançay’s first work in a permanent museum collection.
Works based on doors are added to his chosen subject matter. Works in the Doors Series are created entirely from scratch, though some include transformed objets trouvés, rescued from demolition sites.
One of his New York watercolors is again featured on the cover of the Journal American (Feb 27 issue).
Creates three windows as part of the Doors Series. One of them is later acquired by the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, and another one by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.
Begins the Detour Series that comprise a subgroup of the General Urban Walls Series. Differentiated mostly by wood panels mounted on canvas each of these works features the word “detour” and arrows pointing the way.
Starts his New York Subway Walls Series at this point, when most of the city’s subway stations were blitzed by graffiti, and continues it for over 30 years until most of them have undergone major restoration.
Henry Geldzahler, head of the Twentieth-Century Art Department at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, sponsors Dogançay for a fellowship at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop, Los Angeles, where he produces 16 lithographs, including Walls V, a portfolio of 10 lithographs in a limited edition of 20.
Produces Wall 70, 15 lithographs in an edition of 120, at the Bank Street Atelier, New York.
Meets his future wife, Angela Hausmann, at the Hungarian Ball at the Hotel Pierre, New York.
Produces the first work in his Breakthrough Series, which will continue through the late 1970s. The distinctive feature of the Breakthrough works are two layers of paper, with the bottom one apparently “breaking through” the top layer, which in turn curls away from the bottom layer, casting shadows that provide a striking three-dimensionality. This series heralds the Ribbons and Cones Series that follow shortly after.
The Ribbons Series that marks an important transition from Dogançay’s hitherto realistic rendering of weather-beaten, grimy urban walls to a more refined, abstract approach that incorporates elegant experiments in shadow and light. Torn ribbon-like shreds of paper seemingly burst out of the wall, casting shadows that form extended calligraphic shapes.
Dogançay’s Aubusson tapestries and Alucobond metal sculptures will be based on imagery from this series.
Cone shapes are frequently formed as posters curl up from walls under the influence of the elements and human touch. They provide the inspiration for his third important and distinctive series. Most works from the Cones Series incorporate collage, fumage—a blackening effect achieved with smoke from a lit candle—and tromp l’oeil effects.
Starts producing a playful series, Ships, using layers of paper in the shape of ship sails.
UNICEF selects Dogançay’s Emergence as the design for a greeting card.
A trip to Israel marks the beginning of Dogançay’s Walls of the World photographic documentary, a unique archive of our times, which has since grown to some 30,000 photographs of walls from well over 100 countries.
One of Turkey’s leading art dealers, Yahþi Baraz, hosts Dogançay’s first exhibition in 15 years in Istanbul. This exhibition revolutionizes the Turkish art market, partly because the works are offered at international gallery prices. The show, however, is a huge success and almost completely sells out. Photographer and later the long time head of the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts from 1993 till 2010, Þakir Eczacýbaþý predicts that this exhibition will become a historic milestone, marking the maturity of the Turkish art scene.
Lives in Switzerland and travels extensively for his Walls of the World project.
Produces 4 lithographs, Walls 77, in an edition of 75 at J.E. Wolfensberger Graphische Anstalt, Zurich.
Returns to New York City where he marries Angela Hausmann.
Major works from the Ribbons Series are shown for the first time in a solo exhibition at the Gimpel & Weitzenhoffer Gallery, New York.
With the permission of the Turkish government assumes dual citizenship (Turkish-American).
One-man show of the Walls of the World project, entitled Les murs murmurent, ils crient, ils chantent… at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.
At Walkemühle, Germany, he experiments with his father-in-law, engineer and inventor Gerhard Hausmann, to produce shadow sculptures from aluminum.
For a program entitled Art and the Environment, Tunisian State TV produces a documentary about graffiti and city walls in two separate segments, one featuring Burhan Dogançay and the other Keith Haring.
Begins the Housepainter Series, inspired by walls Dogançay has seen in Turkey and Poland on which housepainters paint test swatches of paint with the cost per square meter alongside.
Introduces Alucobond Shadow Sculptures, which are produced by the Research and Development Center of Swiss Aluminium Ltd., Neuhausen am Rheinfall, Switzerland.
In Paris Dogancay is introduced to maitre Raymond Picaud and his son Jean-François of L’Atelier Raymond Picaud, Aubusson, France. Fascinated by Dogançay’s Ribbons series as ideal tapestry subjects, they instantly invite Dogançay to submit several tapestry cartoons. In the words of Jean-François Picaud “the art of tapestry has found its leader for the 21st century in Burhan Dogançay”.
Receives the Golden Palette Big Honor Award from Ev&Ofis magazine, Istanbul.
The first three Dogançay tapestries woven at L’Atelier Raymond Picaud are an immediate critical success. Over the next several years a total of 14 tapestries are produced at L’Atelier Raymond Picaud.
Wins Enka Arts and Science Award, Istanbul.
Travels to North and West Africa for the Walls of the World project.
Photographically documents skyscraper construction in New York. Secures special permission to ascend Manhattan skyscrapers and photograph ironworkers at work. His friendship with the ironworkers eventually leads him to the top of the Brooklyn Bridge during its major 1986 restoration, giving him the exclusive opportunity to take photographs of the bridge draped in safety nets. Paul Anbinder, publisher of Hudson Hills Press, wrote that these images are “one of the most sustained and serious artistic responses to the Brooklyn Bridge in our time.”
The construction weekly, Engineering News-Record, features one of Dogançay’s photographs of Philip Johnson’s Lipstick building on the cover of its September 5 and September 19 issues.
Hudson Hills Press, New York, publishes the monograph, Dogançay, edited by Roy Moyer, with an introduction by Thomas M. Messer, to accompany the exhibition Two Decades of Walls at Hamideh Bayley Gallery, Greene Street, New York, the following year.
Participates in the First International Asian-European Art Biennial, Ankara.
Participates in the First International Istanbul Biennial by showing three major works on canvas from the Cones Series: Mimar Sinan, Magnificent Era, and Symphony in Blue.
Travels to Australia, Southeast Asia, the Far East, China, and Eastern Europe for the Walls of the World project.
The French magazine Décoration Internationale features one of Dogançay’s Aubusson tapestries on the cover of its October issue.
Travels to Central and South America for the Walls of the World project.
In New York’s SoHo, Dogançay comes across a multicolored brick wall with the tag of graffiti artist ‘GREGO’ written across it. Wondering why bricks are not cheerfully multicolored in reality, Dogançay inaugurates his GREGO Series, which will continue until 2012, that uses painted bricks as its support system. GREGO becomes an alter ego for Dogançay, enabling him to demonstrate through artwork how walls speak of issues that address passersby.
Participates in the IX Bienal Internacional de Arte, Valparaiso, Chile.
Death of his father.
Travels to Central America and Cuba for the Walls of the World project.
The 1990s is one of the most prolific decades in Dogancay’s artistic trajectory. During the first half of this period he creates two notable series: Double Realism, in which he plays with light and shadow from incorporated found objects in such a way that it is not immediately apparent whether the shadows are real or painted; and Formula 1, inspired by the walls of Monaco when they are partly covered with black plastic during the Formula 1 Grand Prix to avoid distracting the drivers.
Dogancay’s father, Adil, dies.
Travels to Central America and Cuba for the Walls of the World project.
Following the acquisition of a Dogançay collage on canvas by Kunsten Museum for Modern Art Aalborg, the Danish daily Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten heralds Dogançay a “Collagens Mester”—a Master of Collage.
Travels to Togo, Benin, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Russia for the Walls of the World project. While taking photographs of walls in downtown Johannesburg, he is attacked at knife point and robbed of his cameras, which thanks to the help of plainclothes policemen are retrieved; luckily, Dogançay walks away with only a few scratches.
Produces Walls–1980, ten silkscreens in an edition of 100, at Artess Çamlýca Art Studio, Istanbul, under the supervision of Suleyman Saim Tekcan.
As guest of Russia’s Ministry of Culture, which honors him with its Medal of Appreciation, he is the first Western artist to have a solo exhibition (Walls and Doors 1990 - 91) at The State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg. The exhibition subsequently travels to the Artists’ Union, Moscow.
Dessine-Moi l’Amour featuring a selection of Dogançay’s Walls of the World photographs, with texts by Gilbert Lascault and Denys Riout, is published by Editions Syros Alternatives, Paris.
The City of Aubusson, France, acquires a tapestry designed by Dogançay and executed by Atelier Raymond Picaud for the mayor’s office.
After having worked 30 prolific years out the confined space of his two-bedroom midtown Manhattan apartment, he can finally afford a lofty penthouse studio in the landmark SoHo Singer Building, New York.
UNICEF chooses one of Dogançay’s paintings as the design for a placemat.
The French publisher, Gallimard, chooses one of Dogançay’s paintings as the cover image for Julian Barnes’ novel Love, etc.
Exhibits an extensive collection of door and wall paintings at the Nicholas Alexander Gallery in SoHo, New York. The exhibition is accompanied by Doors & Walls, a catalogue with an essay by Eleanor Flomenhaft.
Starts work on the Alexander’s Walls Series of large-scale canvases of great presence that evokes the boarded-up exterior of the defunct Manhattan department store, which at one point, though covered by black paper and paint, soon showed signs of wear and tear with colors showing through rips and holes in the black ground.
Receives the National Medal of the Arts for Lifetime Achievement and Cultural Contribution from the President of Turkey, the highest honor that country bestows on an artist.
Travels to Vietnam, Burma, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Lebanon, and Syria for the Walls of the World project.
The Paris Review chooses a Dogançay image, Detour V (1994), for the cover of Issue 134.
Contributes two photographs from his Walls of the World collection for two UNICEF greeting cards.
Moves to new studio on the 8th floor of the Singer Building in SoHo, New York.
Travels to Azerbaijan, Ukraine, and Macedonia for the Walls of the World project.
Receives an award for Turkish Cultural Heritage and Art in the field of visual arts from Antik&Dekor, Istanbul.
JFK International Airport celebrates New York City’s Centennial by inaugurating an exhibition of 19 of Dogançay’s large-scale photographs entitled Brooklyn Bridge As Never Seen Before, which will remain on show for two years in its international-arrivals building. These photographs will also be featured in the book Bridge of Dreams published by Hudson Hills Press the following year.
Blue Walls of New York Series is essentially a continuation of the New York Subway Walls Series. Initially inspiration was provided by the blue fences erected during station remodeling and later by similar ones seen on
the city streets.
Official launch of Bridge of Dreams, a book of Dogançay’s Brooklyn Bridge platinum prints, at the Brooklyn Public Library, followed by additional book signing events at the Brooklyn Historical Society, the Museum of the City of New York, and Barnes & Noble bookstores.
Buys an old, dilapidated five-story building in the Beyoðlu district of Istanbul and with the help of his friends Oktay Duran and Cem Bahadir starts its three-year restoration. It is intended to house a representative cross section of works by Burhan and Adil Dogançay.
Inclusion of one of his Brooklyn Bridge photographs in the Museum of the City of New York’s twentieth century exhibition, The New York Century: World Capital, Home Town, 1900-2000.
Produces Dogançay 2000, ten silkscreens in an edition of 100, at Sinan Demirtaþ Workshop in collaboration with Artess Çamlýca Art Studio, both of Istanbul.
Travels to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan for the Walls of the World project.
Holds his first retrospective exhibition at Dolmabahçe Cultural Center, Istanbul, under the sponsorship of the Dr. Nejat F. Eczacýbaþý Foundation.
Since the beginning of the decade, the demand for Dogançay’s work from museums has considerably increased and new acquisitions over the following years include: Kunstmuseum Basel; Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Staatsgalerie Stuttgart; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the British Museum, London.
Undergoes open heart surgery.
Fully recovered from surgery and full of new energy, Dogançay takes a major leap forward in his artistic career.
to Istanbul in the spring to supervise the completion of work on the Dogançay Museum.
Receives Alem Magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award and is also honored with a Medal of Appreciation by his former soccer team, Gençlerbirliði.
Under the auspices of the Turkish Government, Dogançay’s Homage to Calligraphy (1981) is presented to the headquarters of the European Parliament, Brussels.
Travel to Batum, Georgia, for the Walls of the World project brings the total number of countries visited to 113.
Siegerland Museum, Siegen, Germany, exhibits 80 large-scale photographs from his Walls of the World archive, and Kerber Verlag, Bielefeld, publishes a companion book to the exhibition.
Burhan Dogançay: Works on Paper: 1950–2000 by Richard Vine is published by Hudson Hills Press, New York.
Iþ Bankasý, Istanbul, organizes a charity exhibition with 18 canvases and 15 works on paper of Dogançay’s Blue Walls of New York Series at Kibele Art Gallery to benefit the Turkish Educational Volunteers Foundation, an organization providing education to underprivileged children.
With the accession of Walls V, a portfolio of 10 lithographs created at the Tamarind Workshop, Dogançay becomes the first contemporary Turkish painter to be represented in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s permanent collection.
In March, travels again to Athens, Greece, to document the walls before the elections and subsequently to Cyprus, bringing the number of countries visited to 114.
On October 6, the Dogançay Museum, Istanbul, is officially inaugurated.
On November 25, receives Best Painter of 2002-2003 Award from Sanat Kurumu, Ankara, and in December receives an honorary doctorate from Hacettepe University, Ankara.
In cooperation with the Municipality of Greater Istanbul, the Dogançay Museum organizes its first juried art competition for school children between the ages of 6 and 14. The subject is the Beyoðlu district of Istanbul and various corporate sponsors provide prizes.
In November, the Institut Français d’Istanbul hosts an exhibition of nine of Dogançay’s Aubusson tapestries. To coincide with the exhibition, Thomas M. Messer is invited under the joint auspices of the Dogançay Museum and Bilgi University, Istanbul, to lecture at the university on the subject of the role and responsibility of modern art museums.
On November 19, becomes the first recipient of the Art Honor Award to be given annually by the Art Forum Ankara Plastic Arts Fair for important contributors to the promotion of the arts in and outside of Turkey.
December 7, receives an award for his contribution to the arts from the organization of the International Contemporary Art Exposition, Istanbul.
A second juried art competition for school children is organized by the Dogançay Museum in cooperation with the Municipality of Greater Istanbul. This time the subject is Istanbul and the first prize a one-week trip to Paris. The art competition becomes an annual event with an average of 7,000 students from 1,500 public and private schools participating.
On December 7 receives an award for his contribution to the arts from the art fair Contemporary Istanbul.
Opens a studio (Villa Angela) in Turgutreis, near Bodrum, southern Turkey.
Participates with Jacques Villeglé in Collage-Décollage: Dogançay-Villeglé, a two-person exhibition at the Pera Museum, Istanbul. In 2009 this exhibition travels to CentrePasquArt, Biel, Switzerland.
Introduces an on-going series of paintings on canvas, Framed Walls, that features wooden frames around collaged posters.
Urban Walls: A Generation of Collage in Europe and America by Brandon Taylor, with an introduction by Thomas Messer, is published by Hudson Hills Press, New York. This in-depth look at the history of modern collage has Dogançay’s work as its focus.
A major Dogançay work Symphony in Blue (1987) sells at auction for the highest amount ever paid for the work of a living Turkish artist.
Receives Best Painter of 2008-2009 Award from Sanat Kurumu, Ankara.
The Burhan-Angela Dogançay Foundation for Art, Culture & Education is established as owner and operator of the Dogançay Museum.
The Ohio University Siegfried Hall Art Gallery holds an exhibition of Dogançay works on loan from the Kennedy Museum of Art, Ohio University, USA.
Named Honorary Ambassador by the Metropolitan Municipality of Istanbul.
Is among the 18 recipients of this year’s U.S.-based Golden Turk Awards.
Twenty-five large-scale black-and-white photographs from Brooklyn Bridge As Never Seen Before are exhibited at Aria Art Gallery, Florence.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, acquires Ribbon Mania (1982), the first work of Turkish contemporary art to enter its permanent collection. Contributes a star with a design based on the Framed Walls Series to the Stars of Istanbul, an event to benefit UNICEF, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary in Turkey.
Continues to experiment with new wall concepts in his work. Some of the previously distinct series have begun to overlap and fuse.
Receives Lifetime Achievement Award from the Turgut Pura Foundation, Izmir.
A retrospective exhibition of 126 works on canvas titled Fifty Years of Urban Walls opens at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art. It is a huge success and receives major media attention.
Symphony in Blue, a specially commissioned (by Istanbul Museum of Modern Art) solo piano work by award-winning composer Kamran Ince and performed by Huseyin Sermet, honoring Dogancay's 1987 masterpiece that was auctioned at a record price in 2009, premiers at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art on June 28.
Divides his time between New York, Istanbul, and southern Turkey.
Dies on January 16 in Istanbul. Buried in his beloved Turgutreis, southern Turkey