Burgoyne Diller  (1906 - 1965) 

A pioneer of American abstraction, Burgoyne Diller is among the most significant American artists devoted to geometric abstraction. Born in the Bronx, Diller studied at Michigan State College before returning to New York City, where he studied at the Art Students League with Jan Matulka, George Grosz, and Hans Hofmann. In 1934, he became employed by the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) and the Temporary Emergency Relief Administration (TERA). After working as an easel painter and a muralist, Diller was appointed Director of the New York City
WPA/FAP Mural Division in 1935. During his tenure, Diller championed abstract art and oversaw the execution of more than 200 public murals. For Diller, abstraction was “the ideal realm of harmony, stability, and order in which every form and spatial interval could be controlled and measured.”

He was a founding member of the American Abstract Artists group and a participant in their first exhibition at the SquibbGallery (1937). Still, his affiliation with the group was short-lived.

After serving in the US Navy, Diller became a professor at Brooklyn College in 1946, teaching there with Ad Reinhardt until his death. In the early 1930s, Diller’s art evolved from cubism to non-objective neoplasticism, as he developed a personal language based on three major compositional themes. These themes, which he labeled ‘First’, ‘Second’, and ‘Third,’ explored the picture plane in relation to forms in movement and/or forms in “constant opposition.”

Like Mondrian and Malevich, he executed his vision in primary colors. Creating a heroic body of avant-garde work that includes paintings, drawings, sculptures, and reliefs, Diller is a vital link between American abstraction of the 1930s and minimalism of the 1950s and 1960s epitomized by artists Donald Judd, Ellsworth Kelly, and Myron Stout.

Over the years his work has been exhibited internationally, most notably his 1990 retrospective organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art. His work is represented in numerous museum collections including the Art Institute of Chicago, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Museum of Modern Art, New York.