Chris Burden (American, b.1946) is a performance artist and sculptor. He was born in Boston, MA, and moved shortly thereafter to California, where he earned a BFA from Pomona College in 1969, and an MFA from the University of California in 1971. Burden began producing and performing works in the 1970s, and believed that art should engage audiences in sociological, political, and environmental issues. His performances, which often emphasized the present moment, initially shocked viewers and changed the nature of performance art. Burden infamously has endured a variety of physical traumas in the name of art, such as a gunshot wound (Shoot, 1971) and near-electrocution (Doorway to Heaven, 1973). For a 1974 piece titled Trans-fixed, Burden had his hands nailed to the roof of a Volkswagen as he sprawled across it in a crucifixion-like pose.
Later in the 1970s and into the 1980s, Burden began creating massive sculptures involving hydraulics and machinery, inspired by his interest in engineering and technology. For a 2008 sculpture called Urban Light, Burden installed 202 antique cast-iron streetlamps outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. For Burden, the lamps represented urban sophistication and civilization. Burden’s work has been displayed in solo exhibitions at South London Gallery, the Gagosian Gallery in New York and Beverly Hills, the Tate Gallery in London, and the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig in Vienna, among others.
He currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.