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David Diao

David Diao, 40 Years of His Art, 2013. Acrylic and vinyl on canvas, 40 × 60 in. (101.5 × 153 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Postmasters Gallery, New York. © David Diao

David Diao, 40 Years of His Art, 2013. Acrylic and vinyl on canvas, 40 × 60 in. (101.5 × 153 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Postmasters Gallery, New York. © David Diao

On View

Fourth Floor

David Diao’s work is on view in the Museum’s fourth floor galleries.

Born 1943 in Chengdu,
Sichuan, China
Lives and works in New York, NY

The two paintings by David Diao on view in the 2014 Biennial exemplify the artist’s longstanding exploration of how modern art history and market forces together exert a powerful influence over his own practice. Diao is committed to expanding on formal strategies developed by modernist painters; however, his work reveals a perspective that is not utopian or spiritual, as favored by many modernists, but rather self-effacing and acidly witty.

Home Again, for instance, presents the chronology of his 1991 painting Barnett Newman: The Paintings in Scale as it is sold and resold at auction, at one point drastically underperforming its estimated value, until it is ultimately purchased by the artist himself and thus brought “home again.”

For 40 Years of His Art, Diao created a fake invitation ostensibly from the Museum of Modern Art’s Board of Trustees for a reception celebrating a fictitious Diao retrospective. The design is copied from a 1939 invitation to the Trustees’ reception for Pablo Picasso: 40 Years of His Art.  

Although a sense of disappointment infuses these works, there is no bitterness. On the contrary, Diao’s warts-and-all portrayal of his career and the entanglement of his ideals with the reality of the market conveys a palpable humility and honesty.

2014 Biennial: David Diao

David Diao discusses Barnett Newman and the evolution of his painting Barnett Newman, The Paintings in Scale (1991), on view in the 2014 Biennial (March 7–May 25, 2014).

works by David Diao

David Diao, 40 Years of His Art, 2013. Acrylic and vinyl on canvas, 40 × 60 in. (101.5 × 153 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Postmasters Gallery, New York. © David Diao
David Diao, Home Again, 2013. Acrylic and oil on canvas, 108 × 50 in. (274.3 × 127 cm)
Collection of the artist; courtesy Postmasters Gallery, New York. © David Diao