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 Chris Burden  (1946 - )

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Lived/Active: California/Massachusetts      Known for: performance, installation, graphics

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Chris Burden
from Auction House Records.
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Chris Burden is best known for his performance art pieces associated with the Conceptual art movement. He first achieved notoriety in the 1970's by subjecting himself to danger and physical risk for the sake of artistic expression.

Burden was born in Boston in 1946. His father was an engineer, and Burden himself was always fascinated by technology and construction. He attended Pomona College, Claremont, California and received a B.A. from there in 1969. He went on to study at the University of California, Irvine where he received a Master's degree in Fine Art in 1971. For his Master's thesis Burden locked himself in a two by two by three-foot locker for five days. This piece called the "five day locker piece" gained him immediate underground notoriety.

His dramatic performance work included shocking acts involving electrocution; risk of drowning, and one instance of having a friend shoot him in the arm at his request. Burden used his body as an art object to complete a connection with his audience inviting them into the process.

In the late 1970s, Burden began producing complex installation pieces, which evolved from his performance work. He created giant assemblages of tiny, multiple objects like five-thousand toy soldiers, or numbers of tiny plastic battleships hanging from the ceiling. He also assembled more personal pieces created from a few found objects encased in hand-made wooden display boxes.

His work always hinted at the greater issues at hand, making moral statements about the societal affects of technology, money, violence and military might. In 1974, he began working with video and also began a new phase of building and implementation. Burden designed and built a one-passenger prototype vehicle in 1977 and was also fascinated by bridge construction.

His art work and personal performances have been staged for audiences at a number of national and international institutions including the Museum of Conceptual Art, San Francisco, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Although he began exhibiting in 1971, a retrospective of his work, "Chris Burden: A Twenty Year Survey", was organized in 1988 by the Newport Harbor Art Museum, California. Chris Burden teaches at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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