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Diane Burko

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Known for
Painting, Photography

Skid College


Diane Burko

Diane Burko Diane Burko Politics of Snow at Locks Gallery artcritical

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Diane Burko, Paintings: Luci Ed Ombra Di Bellagio

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Diane burko painter

Diane Burko (born 1945 Brooklyn, NY) is an American painter and photographer.


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Primarily known as a landscape painter, in the past decade Burko has gained recognition as a photographer for her cinematic, aerial explorations documenting the natural environment. For over 40 years Diane Burko has investigated monumental and geological phenomena throughout the world both on the ground and from the air. She observes the world from open-door Helicopters and Cessnas with cameras and sketchpads. Her paintings are derived from that process. Her subjects include the Pacific Northwest, the fjords of Scandinavia, the volcanoes of Hawaii, and her home environment in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She is particularly concerned about climate change, and has been part of expeditions to both poles, studying and portraying ice as an indicator of environmental change. Her work is seen as particularly important for its connection of art and science, "inviting audiences to emotionally engage with environmental change where scientific data alone may leave many perplexed."

Diane Burko Diane Burko39s Polar Images Document Climate Change Town

Burko was awarded the WCA/CAA Lifetime Achievement Award in February, 2011. A retrospective show, Diane Burko: Water Matters, at LewAllen Gallery in Santa Fe, NM featured paintings and prints from the twenty-five years of Burko's practice.

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DIANE BURKO - Painter/Photographer


Diane Burko artblog PMA chief Timothy Rub talks of change

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1945, Burko graduated from Skidmore College in 1966 where she received her B.S. in art history and painting. She continued her study of painting earning an M.F.A. in 1969 from the Graduate School of Fine Arts of the University of Pennsylvania and continues to live and work in Philadelphia and Bucks County. After graduating, Burko went on to become professor emeritus of the Community College of Philadelphia where she taught from 1969-2000. During her time at CCP, Burko founded the transfer art program. Throughout her career, Burko has taught at various schools across the country such as Princeton University, Arizona State University and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

In 1976, Ivan Karp offered Burko a “Dealer’s Showcase” at OK Harris Gallery in New York, NY, which attracted the attention of critic David Bourdon, who reviewed her solo exhibition in The Village Voice. The following year, while flying with Light and Space artist James Turrell in his Helio Courier over the Grand Canyon, Burko captured her first aerial photographs of the landscape. Since 1977, she has produced thousands of photographs, many of which have served as source material for her landscape paintings.

In 1989, the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Fund awarded Burko a grant to fund a six-month residency in Giverny, France. The paintings which resulted from this residency met with positive reviews in the United States. The Washington Post praised Burko's "distinctive approach to composition." While in France, Burko and painter Joan Mitchell visited one another's studios.

In 1993 Burko was awarded a residency at the Rockefeller Study and Conference Center in Bellagio where she painted en plein air for five weeks. This culminated in her 1994 Locks Gallery exhibition, “Luci ed Ombra di Bellagio" - "The Light and Shadow of Bellagio.” Robert Rosenblum, who first took an interest in Burko's work in 1976, wrote the accompanying catalog essay. Other critics and curators who have written about Burko's work include: Lawrence Alloway, Roberta Fallon, Pat Hogan, Leslie Kaufman, Cate McQuaid, Preston McLane, Edith Newhall, John Perreault, Carter Ratcliff, Libby Rosof, Julie Sasse, Amy Schlegel, Ed Sozanski, and Michael Tomor. In 1996 Burko won a $200,000 Public Art commission sponsored by the RDA of Philadelphia and the Marriott Hotel. Burko's artwork appears on The Fairmount Park Art Association Public Art Tour in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


Burko’s widely exhibited works are in numerous private and public collections including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Delaware Art Museum, the James A. Michener Art Museum, the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Woodmere Art Museum. Diane Burko has been represented by Locks Gallery since 1976, during which time she has had over thirty solo exhibitions in galleries and museums across the U.S.

In February 2006, Amy Schlegel, the Director of Galleries at Tufts University organized a show titled: "FLOW" which featured Burko’s volcanic and Icelandic paintings as well as a selection of her photographs. This show traveled to the Michener Museum from June to October 2006. The Zimmerli Art Museum at [Rutgers University] mounted an exhibition of Burko's work about climate change, including photographs taken from an expedition to Antarctica: "Diane Burko: Glacial Perspectives" from September 4, 2013 to July 31, 2014.

Climate Change

Since 2000 Burko has studied volcanic tectonics and glacial geology, as well as climate change, which have led to her current imagery. For the last five years, she has been developing Politics of Snow, a project investigating the historical comparisons of global climate change through images culled from glacial geological data recorded throughout the world. Where many of her early works documented a particular site in real time, her more recent works document the past, present, and future and confront geological changes that are occurring over chronological time.

With the Politics of Snow II series at the Bernstein Gallery at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School, Burko focused on historical time, rather than cyclical or continuous natural processes. These paintings of glaciers under erasure depict particular glaciers in Peru, Montana, and Alaska, photographically-monitored by scientists for a century. No longer dependent on her own photos, Burko employs photo-documents shot by scientists and field researchers at U.S. Geological Survey and Byrd Polar Research Center at The Ohio State University, such as David Arnold, Henry Brecher, Dan Fagre, Ulysses S. Grant IV, Karen Holzer, Carl Key, Bruce Molnia, Sidney Paige, Tad Pfeffer, Lonnie Thompson and Bradford Washburn, or images stored in the Glacier National Park archives. Regarding this series, Curator Ian Berry remarks how “Burko combines traditional landscape painting with an activist edge that has simmered underneath the surface of her previous paintings but now boldly surfaces.”

The serial nature of Burko’s investigations into the changing appearance of specific glaciers (e.g., by juxtaposing different historical views from the same vantage point but at slightly different scaled canvases) foregrounds her painterly interest in both spatial and temporal transformation. Judith E. Stein observes, “To my horror, I found myself adding my own mental image to each sequence, extrapolating from what [Burko] shows, thereby envisioning the next, un-depicted step in the warming process— our dystopic future.”

In 2013, Burko embarked on two research expeditions: one to Antarctica in January and another to the high Arctic in October. Burko was selected for the latter trip to work collaboratively with a number of other artists, scientists and journalists. The Independence Foundation in Philadelphia awarded Burko a Fellowship in the Arts to support the expedition, which is sponsored by the nonprofit organization The Arctic Circle. Her expeditions to both the North and South Poles lead Burko to develop her most recent, and ongoing, body of work "Polar Investigations."


Diane Burko has received many awards including a 2013 Artist Fellowship Grant for her Arctic Circle Expedition from the Independence Foundation, two NEA Visual Arts Fellowships (1985, 1991); two Individual Artists Grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (1981, 1989); a Lila Acheson Wallace Foundation Residence Fellowship (1989); a Rockefeller Foundation Residence Fellowship (1993); the Bessie Berman $50,000 Grant, awarded by the Leeway Foundation in Philadelphia (2000). and the Independence Foundation Fellowship in the Arts (2013).

In 1996 Burko won a $200,000 Public Art commission sponsored by the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Philadelphia and the Marriott Hotel. The result was a three-year project: Wissahickon Reflections, which comprises over 1,400 square feet (130 m2) of paintings, with one single panel measuring 11.5 feet (3.5 m) by 32 feet (9.8 m).

Throughout her career as an artist, Burko has been an active member in the Feminist art movement. In 1974 she founded the all city festival: Focus: Philadelphia Focus on Women in the Visual Arts - Past and Present. She was awarded the WCA/CAA Lifetime Achievement Award in February, 2011.


Diane Burko Wikipedia