Occupation: Performance Artist; Sculpture
Movement: Contemporary Arts 
Education: Pomona College, Claremont; University of California, Irvine
Famous Artworks
“Through the Night Softly,” 1973
“Design Flaw,” 1982
“Samson,” 1985
“Noah’s Ark,” 1992
“U2 Boat,” 1992
“A Young American’s Arsenal,” 1994
“Victoria Falls Bridge,” 2003
“Metropolis,” 2011
Chris Burden was an American artist active from the second half of the 20th century, renowned for his contribution to contemporary conceptual art through performance, installation and sculpture. 
Early Life
Born in Boston in the spring of 1946, Christopher Lee Burden the son of engineer Robert Burden and his wife, Rhoda, a biologist. His parents were avid travellers and divided their time between the university town of Cambridge, Massachussetts and Europe, particularly France and Italy. It was during such an expedition to the island of Elba in 1958 that Burden was severely injured in a scooter accident, resulting in an emergency surgery on his foot performed without the use of anaesthesia. It is likely that this incident triggered his lifelong fascination with self-inflicted pain, apparent in his later work. As he recuperated, he became increasingly drawn to visual art and developed an inclination towards photography. 
Upon graduating from high school in 1965, Burden left for California in order to study physics, art and architecture at Pomona College in Claremont, following which he pursued an MFA at UC, Irvine. At the time, the faculty included several prominent experimental artists such Robert Irwin. It was through his exposure to the avant-garde that he was able to broaden his concept of what art could be, leading to the masochistic performances for which he would soon become notorious. 
Burden’s graduating thesis in 1971 comprised of locking himself in an enclosed space for five days while fasting, with a large jug of water suspended above him for sustenance and a large jug below for waste. He was intrigued by the idea that his actions alone, without the use of traditional materials, could be reckoned art. The majority of his performances focused on different levels of physical pain, from growing discomfort to anguish, caused by self-mutilation or tortuous endurance activities. Conceptually, he had little interest in the transitory and preferred instead to emphasize on the physicality of his work. For instance, in 1974, he nailed himself to a Volkwagen Beetle in a performance titled “Trans-Fixed.”
Following the controversy surrounding the show, the artist received the National Endowment for the Arts Grant, a scholarship he was awarded more than three times between 1974 and 1984. With this funding, he began exploring different media like sculpture and installations, finding inspiration in engineering, pop culture and current affairs. In 1978, he was appointed a faculty member at UCLA and served as its Head of New Media for almost 30 years. He resigned in 2005 amidst accusations of hypocrisy for objecting to a student’s radical performance art. 
Recent Activity
In 2013, a retrospective of the artist’s work was organized by the New Museum in New York titled “Chris Burden: Extreme Measures.” It was the first major showcase of his art in the United States in over a quarter of a century. He was an active figure in the Los Angeles art scene until his death in May of 2015. Burden was survived by his wife, the sculptor and installation artist Nancy Rubins
1946  -  Born in Boston
1969  -  Receives his BFA from Pomona College
1971  -  Graduates from the University of California, Irvine
1997  -  Wins the Visual Artists Award from the Flintridge Foundation
1978  -  Accepts a faculty position at the San Francisco Art Institute in addition to his appointment as the Head of New Media at UCLA
2015  -  Passes away in Topanga Canyon
Major Exhibitions
1993  -  Gagosian Gallery, New York
1996  -  Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna
1997  -  Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
1998  -  Newport Harbor Art Museum
1999  -  Venice Biennale
1999  -  Tate Gallery, London
2002  -  Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna
2002  -  Baltic Center of Contemporary Art, Gateshead
2006  -  South London Gallery, London
2008  -  Inhotim Centro de Arte Contemporanea, Minas Gerais
2009  -  Middleheimmuseum, Antwerp
2010  -  Gagosian Gallery, Rome
2011  -  Portland Museum
2013  -  Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna
Museums / Collections
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
Tate Gallery, London
Museum of Modern Art, New York
21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa
Middleheimmuseum, Antwerp
Books / Publications
“Chris Burden: Extreme Measures” by Lisa Phillips and Massimiliano Gioni
“Chris Burden” by Fred Hoffman and John Berger
“Chris Burden: When Robots Ruled the Air” by Frances Morris
“Made in LA” by Chris Burden and John Baldessari
“Chris Burden: Beyond the Limits” by Donald Kuspit and Chris Burden

Curators Choice: Neville Wakefield

By Scott Indrisek,Modern Painters | January 22, 2016

Chris Burden’s Feats of Sculpture at Gagosian Paris

By Nicholas Forrest | April 26, 2015

“My Body Is the Event”: Mumok Revisits Viennese Actionism

By Lisa Contag | March 9, 2015


Chris Burden at Gagosian Paris

By Nicholas Forrest | April 26, 2015