Burhan Dogançay obtained his artistic training from his father Adil Dogancay, and Arif Kaptan, both well-known Turkish painters. In his youth, Dogançay played on the Turkish Gençlerbirliği soccer team. In 1950, he received a law degree from the University of Ankara, Turkey. While enrolled at the University of Paris in 1953 from where he obtained a doctorate degree in economics, he attended from 1950 until 1955 art courses at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. During this period he continued to paint regularly and to show his works in several group exhibitions. Soon after his return to Turkey, he participated in many exhibitions, including joint exhibitions with his father at the Ankara Art Lovers Club. Following a brief career with the government (diplomatic service) which brought him to New York City in 1962, Dogançay decided in 1964 to devote himself entirely to art and make New York his permanent home. Today, Dogançay lives and works both in New York City and Turgutreis, Turkey.
Ab initio, Dogançay was fascinated by urban walls and chose them as his subject. He saw them as the barometer of our society and a testament to the passage of time, reflecting social, political and economic changes, frequently withstanding the assault of the elements and the markings left by people.
In the mid-seventies, Dogançay embarked on what he saw then as his secondary project: photographing urban walls all over the globe. Over time, this project gained importance as well as content and after four decades now encompasses over 100 countries. These photographs are an archive of our time and the seeds for his paintings, which in and by themselves are also documentary of the era in which we live. With posters and objects gathered from walls forming the main ingredient for his work, it is only logical that Dogançay’s preferred medium has been predominantly ‘collage’ and to some extent ‘fumage’. Dogançay re-creates walls in different series.
In the 70s and 80s he gained notoriety with his interpretation of urban walls in his signature ribbons series, which in contrast to his collaged billboard works such as the Cones Series, Doors Series or Walls of Alexander consist of clean paper strips and their calligraphically-shaped shadows. This series later gave rise to aluminum composite material shadow sculptures and Aubusson Tapestries.
Being exclusively dedicated to the work of Burhan Dogançay, and to a minor extent also to the art of his father, Adil, the Doğançay Museum provides a retrospective survey of the artist’s various creative phases from his student days up until the present. With about 100 works on display, Doğançay Museum in Istanbul's Beyoğlu is Turkey's first contemporary art museum.
Doğançay's works are on display in many other museums around the world including New York's MoMA, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum as well as National Gallery of Art in Washington, [[MUMOK in Vienna, Musée National d'Art Moderne in Paris, Istanbul Modern in Istanbul, The Israel Museum in Jerusalem and The State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg.