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Burgoyne Diller

(1906-1965)

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Biography

A native of New York, Burgoyne Andrew Diller was born on January 13, 1906.  His father died when Diller was just a young boy, causing great financial strain on the family.  His brother was sent to Buffalo to live with relatives (1910), while Burgoyne remained with his mother in the Bronx.  The entire family eventually moved to Buffalo in 1913 and his mother remarried in 1919.

Although Diller attended high school and college, he never received a degree for his studies.  He supported himself with odd jobs to include silkscreen printer, track coach, mechanic and window-trimmer. Stemming from his early years in Buffalo to a trip to Chicago in 1924, his true interest had always been in art.  In school, Diller had taken courses in applied art, but it was not until 1927 that he was able to take private lessons.  The following year he moved to New York, where he attended the Art Students League to study with such artists as Jan Matulka and Hans Hofmann.


Diller was included in his first group show in 1932. He continued his studies at the League and moved with his new wife, Sally Conboy, and fellow student, Will Barnet, to Queens.  He received his first one-man show shortly thereafter in 1933. His work of the Thirties exhibited abstract principles of linear design and flat planes of color that would remain consistent throughout his career.


Diller was an active member of many art groups in New York and became involved in the WPA easel division in 1934, only later to co-head the mural division.  The relationships he developed with the WPA artists ultimately led to the formation of the American Abstract Artists group in 1937.