David Diao

Birth placeChina Birth date1943

David Diao works and lives in New York. He first won acclaim and public attention with an exhibition at Paula Cooper gallery in 1969, has dedicated two decades to making his famous works riffing on famous Modernist paintings. These paintings borrow motifs and images from the works of artists like Ad Reinhardt, Jackson Pollock, Kasimir Malevich, and Barnett Newman, using catalogues, archival photographs, and ephemera as points of reference. Diao is known for his simplification of form, minimal compositions, and use of stylized text and typography. The resultant works are both tributes to and wry interrogations of the subject-artists’ careers. Beginning in the mid-2000s, Diao began to incorporate biographical elements in his work, around themes of his Chinese heritage, emigration, and displacement. His first exhibition in China took place in 2008. 


Diao’s paintings are included in many major collections, including the Hirshhorn Museum, MoMA, Whitney Museum of American Art, SFMOMA, and others.  In 2014, Diao’s work was featured in a solo show at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum and, in 2015, a large-scale comprehensive retrospective was organized by The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing.

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