Exhibition Archives

Burgoyne Diller (1906–1965) is one of the most important American artists you’ve probably never heard of. After experimenting with Cubism in the early 1930s in New York, Diller discovered the art of Dutch Constructivist Piet Mondrian through art publications and became one of the first American artists to work in a completely nonrepresentational manner. Adapting some of Mondrian’s concepts to an extreme, Diller eliminated the Dutch artist’s spiritual and utopian ideas, along with the appearance of brush stokes in his work. While Mondrian’s work showed evidence of the artist’s hand, Diller’s paintings were smooth and hard-edged, characteristics that he combined with total formal abstraction (often called nonobjectivity or nonrepresentation). Diller was vital to the development of Minimalism in American art in the late 20th century, as he bridged this country’s earliest experiments with abstraction to more recent iterations in the nonrepresentational works of Donald Judd and Robert Ryman.

Gifts of Emma-Stina and Kenneth W. Prescott, longtime friends of Burgoyne Diller, the McNay’s more than 40 drawings span the artist’s career from the 1920s to the 1960s. One of the most important holdings of Diller’s drawings, this group highlights the McNay’s 20th-century graphics collection. Diller made most of these works as studies for paintings or sculptures. This first showing of the best of the gifts from the Prescotts illustrates the development of one of America’s greatest abstract artists and is on view in the Lawson Print Gallery.

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