Performance Artist – Chris Burden

Chris Burden

US Artist- Performance Art, Installation, Visual Arts

Chris Burden was a seminal American performance artist. His controversial works of art often involved putting himself in physical danger or extreme discomfort, most memorably in his iconic Shoot (1971) performance. After gathering bystanders in a gallery, he was shot in the left bicep by a .22 caliber rifle by a friend—daring his audience to intervene in a performance that has often been interpreted as a response to passivity in the face of the ongoing Vietnam War. “I had an intuitive sense that being shot is as American as apple pie,” Burden said. “We see people being shot on TV, we read about it in the newspaper. Everybody has wondered what it’s like. So I did it.” Other notable projects included Trans-Fixed (1974), where the artist had his hands nailed into the hood of a Volkswagen Beetle in a shocking crucifixion. Though he continued performing for much of his career, his later works often consisted of kinetic sculptural elements and mechanized toys. Born on April 11, 1946 in Boston, MA, he went on to study at Pomona College and under the famed Conceptual artist Robert Irwin at the University of California Irvine. He went on to receive four separate National Endowment for the Arts grants, and today, Burden’s works are held in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and he National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., among others. In 2013, the New Museum in New York held a major retrospective titled “Chris Burden: Extreme Measures.” He died on May 10, 2015 in Topanga Canyon, CA at the age of 69.

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