A Gift for Istanbul Modern’s 10th Anniversary

  • Published by Ozgur Tore

Angela Doğançay, wife of Burhan Doğançay, a leading figure of the art scene in Turkey who passed away in 2013, has donated one work from his latest series to Istanbul Modern, the first private modern art museum in Turkey to organize modern and contemporary art exhibitions.

The painting, which was displayed at this museum in 2012 in an exhibition titled “Fifty Years of Urban Walls: A Burhan Doğançay Retrospective” that included 120 works from the artist’s 14 periods, was donated to mark the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the founding of Istanbul Modern and in honor of Oya and Bülent Eczacıbaşı. “Stonewall” is a significant example of the variety of styles that Doğançay developed over the years on the theme of urban walls that recurs in his work. The collaboration between Istanbul Modern and the Doğançay Museum, which both celebrate their 10th anniversary, is strengthened even more with Angela Doğançay’s donation.


Angela Doğançay expresses her joy that “Stonewall” has found a home at Istanbul Modern: “In 2004, both the Doğançay Museum and Istanbul Modern opened their doors to the public. On the occasion of this 10th anniversary, I am honored to gift one of the most important works from Burhan Doğançay's latest work period to this wonderful institution for their permanent collection. Istanbul Modern is the perfect home for ‘Stonewall’ where it will be cared for and made accessible to the entire world; not only by showcasing it in the museum's galleries but also virtually through the Google Art Project. In this regard, I am grateful to Oya and Bülent Eczacıbaşı and the curators of Istanbul Modern for enthusiastically helping to preserve Burhan Doğançay's legacy and the remarkable work they provide to the arts in Turkey.”

“Stonewall” is part of the “Double Realism” series that comprises 36 works. A subsection of this series, titled “Tires” series, uses automobile tires as pictorial and installation material. As part of “Tires” series, “Stonewall” is a response to a local scene that Doğançay encountered in his explorations of walls in Turkey and abroad. The “Apprentice Wanted” and “Open 24 Hours” signs on the wall of a tire repair shop in the city of Milas in the province of Muğla reflects lives in different cities lived with a consciousness of urbanization. With its wealth of three-dimensional material, it offers the viewer an experience more like that of an installation overflowing from the surface than that of a painting.


Burhan Doğançay speaks the energetic language of urban life, capturing what causes a place to remain in his memory and what shapes contemporary urban culture as he takes notes, sketches, records and reproduces. He reminds us that his works are fictions that are masterfully arranged and clad in artistic language. Because this fictional imagery constitutes the foundation of his practice, his imaginary personal world is reflected in the expressionism of his work. Doğançay explains this process as follows: “I take the documentary and transform it into something abstract so that the real and unreal are side-by-side.” The investigative and analytical sketches he made as he prepared his wall pieces constitute the first pictorial surfaces on which he recorded what he observed of urban life. The sketch for “Stonewall”, which was donated along with the work itself, reflects a meticulous practice based on investigation. It also presents clues about the process through which the work came into being.

Burhan Doğançay’s work is represented in the collections of 70 leading museums around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum and Guggenheim Museum in New York, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humblebæk, the Victoria & Albert Museum and the British Museum in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm; as well as in prominent private collections.

Istanbul Modern, which has served as a venue for a variety of artistic branches and has had more than 5 million visitors since it opened, continues to be a multi-dimensional conduit for communication that unites art and the quotidian. Through new purchases and donations that augment its collection, the museum brings together the most notable examples of different fields of expression such as painting, sculpture, photography, drawing, installation and video with a wealth of variety that stretches from the beginnings of modern art to contemporary creations, giving visitors the opportunity to view the history of our art with new eyes.


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