“Phyllis Fugue” Painting

“Phyllis Fugue” Painting


This painting by Phyllis Diller depicts the “Phyllis Fugue” that she composed in 1937. Diller, while known for her stand-up comedy, was also an accomplished pianist. After graduating high school, Diller studied piano for three years at the Sherwood Conservatory of Music (at Columbia College Chicago), but eventually decided against a career in music. From 1971 to 1982 Diller performed with over 100 symphony orchestras across the United States and Canada in a show called The Symphonic Phyllis Diller. During these performances she would seriously perform pieces by Beethoven, Bach, and others as a solo pianist with an orchestra while integrating comedic elements.

Diller began painting for pleasure in the mid-1980s. During this time, she was staying in a large suite at Harrah’s in Reno, NV where she had enough space to set up several easels and canvases. She described her style as painting quickly and without too much thought about each individual painting. This quick style allowed her to complete anywhere from ten to twenty-five paintings per day.

Currently not on view
Date made
Diller, Phyllis
place made
United States: California, Los Angeles
Physical Description
acrylic paint (overall material)
canvas (overall material)
wood (overall material)
overall: 29 1/4 in x 25 1/4 in x 3/4 in; 74.295 cm x 64.135 cm x 1.905 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Phyllis Diller
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Phyllis Diller
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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