Chris Burden
American artist



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Chris Burden
American artist
Average: 5 (1 vote)

Birth Date

April 11, 1946

Death Date

May 10, 2015

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Blessed with name-making recklessness, Chris Burden made some radical contributions to the art world with his fearlessness in the face of danger--well, really, in the face of self-harm.

Burden defined the first part of his career with edgy performance pieces that he referred to as “body art,” and that now look a lot like what Johnny Knoxville would later do on Jackass. He kicked off with a notorious piece called Shoot, done while he was still a grad student, in which an assistant carefully shot him with a .22 caliber rifle in a Santa Ana gallery as viewers looked on. The shooter’s aim was actually slightly off. Instead of inflicting a graze wound, as planned, he got Burden squarely in the arm. Too bad they hadn’t thought to bring a first aid kit.

Other career highlights include nailing his body to the hood of a Volkswagen, spending five days fasting in a 2x2x3-foot locker, crawling naked across broken glass and broadcasting it on commercial television, and all kinds of fun with live electrical wires. In the late ‘80s, now getting too old for masochism, Burden turned to sculpture and installation work. You can enjoy these pieces in many museum collections around the world, without fearing for anyone’s life.

Burden and his wife, sculptor Nancy Rubins, both taught at UCLA until 2005, when they resigned in response to a highly controversial performance piece by grad student Joe Deutch. In his studio, in front of classmates and an instructor, Deutch procured from a paper bag what he now claims to have been a real gun. He loaded it, spun the barrel, and pulled the trigger in a performative game of russian roulette. After the gun didn’t fire, Deutch left the room and set off a firecracker in the hallway--which would have sounded to his colleagues like a gunshot. Naturally, students were slightly traumatized. Burden and Rubins were so grossed out by the administration’s lax handling of what they deemed an act of “domestic terrorism” that they resigned almost immediately.

After surviving a multitude of dangerous, boundary-pushing antics, Chris Burden died of cancer in 2015 at age 69.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Chris Burden

Christopher Lee Burden (April 11, 1946 – May 10, 2015) was an American artist working in performance, sculpture and installation art. Burden became known in the 1970s for his performance art works, including Shoot (1971), where he arranged for a friend to shoot him in the arm with a small-caliber rifle. A prolific artist, Burden created many well-known installations, public artworks and sculptures before his death in 2015.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Chris Burden.