Menu

Chris Burden

Chris Burden, Shoot, 1971 Performance at F Space, Santa Ana, California, November 19, 1971© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, Shoot, 1971

Performance at F Space, Santa Ana, California, November 19, 1971
© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, Bed Piece, 1972 Performance at 72 Market Street, Venice, California, February 18–March 10, 1972© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, Bed Piece, 1972

Performance at 72 Market Street, Venice, California, February 18–March 10, 1972
© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, 747, 1973 Performance at Los Angeles, January 5, 1973© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, 747, 1973

Performance at Los Angeles, January 5, 1973
© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, Thank You, 1979 Black-and-white photograph, color photograph, nail, gold foil, fabric, painted paper collage, and felt-tip pen on board, 32 × 40 inches (81.3 × 101.6 cm)© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, Thank You, 1979

Black-and-white photograph, color photograph, nail, gold foil, fabric, painted paper collage, and felt-tip pen on board, 32 × 40 inches (81.3 × 101.6 cm)
© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, Breakthrough, 1982 Printed paper collage, plastic, and aluminum dog tag on paper, 31 ½ × 39 ½ inches (80 × 100.3 cm)© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, Breakthrough, 1982

Printed paper collage, plastic, and aluminum dog tag on paper, 31 ½ × 39 ½ inches (80 × 100.3 cm)
© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, Scale Model of the Solar System, 1983 Plastic, steel ball bearings, plexiglass, dimensions variable, installed at Contemporary Art Center, New Orleans, February 25–March 27, 1983© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, Scale Model of the Solar System, 1983

Plastic, steel ball bearings, plexiglass, dimensions variable, installed at Contemporary Art Center, New Orleans, February 25–March 27, 1983
© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, Sex Tower (Architectural Model of 125 Foot High Sex Tower), 1986 Cement, wood, metal screws, and gold leaf, 133 ½ × 36 ¼ × 37 ¾ inches (339.1 × 92.1 × 95.9 cm)© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, Sex Tower (Architectural Model of 125 Foot High Sex Tower), 1986

Cement, wood, metal screws, and gold leaf, 133 ½ × 36 ¼ × 37 ¾ inches (339.1 × 92.1 × 95.9 cm)
© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, L.A.P.D. Uniform, 1993 Fabric, leather, wood, metal, and plastic, 88 × 72 × 6 inches (223.5 × 182.9 × 15.2 cm), edition of 30© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, L.A.P.D. Uniform, 1993

Fabric, leather, wood, metal, and plastic, 88 × 72 × 6 inches (223.5 × 182.9 × 15.2 cm), edition of 30
© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, The Flying Steamroller, 1996 Steel, concrete, and 1968 Huber road grader, 21 feet × 56 feet 6 inches × 56 feet 6 inches (6.4 × 17.2 × 17.2 m), installed at MAK—Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst/Gegenwartskunst, Vienna, February 28–August 4, 1996© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, The Flying Steamroller, 1996

Steel, concrete, and 1968 Huber road grader, 21 feet × 56 feet 6 inches × 56 feet 6 inches (6.4 × 17.2 × 17.2 m), installed at MAK—Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst/Gegenwartskunst, Vienna, February 28–August 4, 1996
© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, Tower of London Bridge, 2003 Stainless steel reproduction Mysto Type I Erector parts, gearbox, and wood base, 28 ¼ × 80 ¼ × 8 ½ (71.8 × 203.8 × 21.6 cm), edition of 6 + 3 AP© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, Tower of London Bridge, 2003

Stainless steel reproduction Mysto Type I Erector parts, gearbox, and wood base, 28 ¼ × 80 ¼ × 8 ½ (71.8 × 203.8 × 21.6 cm), edition of 6 + 3 AP
© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, The Rant, 2006 DVD, color, sound, 2:10 minutes, edition of 10© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, The Rant, 2006

DVD, color, sound, 2:10 minutes, edition of 10
© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, 65 Foot High Skyscraper, Angled View & Front View, 2008 Ink on paper, in 2 parts, overall: 19 ⅛ × 24 ⅝ inches (48.6 × 62.5 cm)© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, 65 Foot High Skyscraper, Angled View & Front View, 2008

Ink on paper, in 2 parts, overall: 19 ⅛ × 24 ⅝ inches (48.6 × 62.5 cm)
© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, What My Dad Gave Me, 2008 Approximately 1,000 stainless steel reproduction Mysty Type I Erector parts, nuts, and bolts, 65 feet × 11 feet 2 inches × 11 feet 3 inches (19.8 × 3.4 × 3.4 m), installed at Rockefeller Plaza, New York, June 11, 2008–July 19, 2008© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Erich Koyama

Chris Burden, What My Dad Gave Me, 2008

Approximately 1,000 stainless steel reproduction Mysty Type I Erector parts, nuts, and bolts, 65 feet × 11 feet 2 inches × 11 feet 3 inches (19.8 × 3.4 × 3.4 m), installed at Rockefeller Plaza, New York, June 11, 2008–July 19, 2008
© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Erich Koyama

Chris Burden, Metropolis II, 2006–10 3 hp DC motors with motor controllers, 1080 custom manufactured die-cast cars, HO-scale train sets with controllers and tracks, steel, aluminum, shielded copper wire, copper sheet, brass, various plastics, assorted woods and manufactured wood products, Legos, Lincoln Logs, Dado Cubes, glass, ceramic and natural stone tiles, acrylic and oil-base paints, rubber, and sundry adhesives, 117 × 339 × 230 inches (297 × 861 × 584 cm)© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, Metropolis II, 2006–10

3 hp DC motors with motor controllers, 1080 custom manufactured die-cast cars, HO-scale train sets with controllers and tracks, steel, aluminum, shielded copper wire, copper sheet, brass, various plastics, assorted woods and manufactured wood products, Legos, Lincoln Logs, Dado Cubes, glass, ceramic and natural stone tiles, acrylic and oil-base paints, rubber, and sundry adhesives, 117 × 339 × 230 inches (297 × 861 × 584 cm)
© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, Urban Light, 2008 202 fully restored Los Angeles cast-iron streetlamps from the 1920s (17 styles of lamps that have been sandblasted, painted, and electrified), 26 feet 8 ½ inches × 57 feet 2 ½ inches × 58 feet 8 ½ inches (8.1 × 17.4 × 17.9 m), permanent installation at Los Angeles County Museum of Art© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Museum Associates/LACMA

Chris Burden, Urban Light, 2008

202 fully restored Los Angeles cast-iron streetlamps from the 1920s (17 styles of lamps that have been sandblasted, painted, and electrified), 26 feet 8 ½ inches × 57 feet 2 ½ inches × 58 feet 8 ½ inches (8.1 × 17.4 × 17.9 m), permanent installation at Los Angeles County Museum of Art
© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Museum Associates/LACMA

Chris Burden, Holmby Hills Light Folly, 2012 4 Holmby Hills cast-iron streetlamps from the 1920s, fully restored and electrified, and 4 cast-iron benches, 168 × 168 × 168 inches (426.7 × 426.7 × 426.7 cm), installed at Parcours Art Basel, June 19–22, 2014© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: J. Searles

Chris Burden, Holmby Hills Light Folly, 2012

4 Holmby Hills cast-iron streetlamps from the 1920s, fully restored and electrified, and 4 cast-iron benches, 168 × 168 × 168 inches (426.7 × 426.7 × 426.7 cm), installed at Parcours Art Basel, June 19–22, 2014
© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: J. Searles

Chris Burden, Porsche with Meteorite, 2013 Restored 1974 Porsche 914, 390-pound meteorite, and steel structure© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Brian Forrest

Chris Burden, Porsche with Meteorite, 2013

Restored 1974 Porsche 914, 390-pound meteorite, and steel structure
© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Brian Forrest

Chris Burden, Three Arch Dry Stack Bridge, 1/4 Scale, 2013 974 hand-cast concrete blocks and wood, 46 × 332 ½ × 21 inches (116.8 × 844.6 × 53.3 cm)© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Thomas Lannes

Chris Burden, Three Arch Dry Stack Bridge, 1/4 Scale, 2013

974 hand-cast concrete blocks and wood, 46 × 332 ½ × 21 inches (116.8 × 844.6 × 53.3 cm)
© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Thomas Lannes

Chris Burden, Buddha’s Fingers, 2014–15 32 antique cast-iron streelamps, 142 × 108 × 108 inches (360.6 × 274.3 × 274.3 cm), installed at Gagosian, 980 Madison Avenue, New York, January 19–March 12, 2016© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Rob McKeever

Chris Burden, Buddha’s Fingers, 2014–15

32 antique cast-iron streelamps, 142 × 108 × 108 inches (360.6 × 274.3 × 274.3 cm), installed at Gagosian, 980 Madison Avenue, New York, January 19–March 12, 2016
© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Rob McKeever

Chris Burden, Ode to Santos-Dumont, 2015 7075 aircraft aluminum reproduction Erector parts, carbon fiber drive shaft, fiberglass propeller, nylon cable, hand tooled 1:4 scale replica of 1903 gasoline motor, polyurethane balloon, 1300 cubic feet of helium, dimensions variable, installed at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, May 18–June 21, 2015© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, Ode to Santos-Dumont, 2015

7075 aircraft aluminum reproduction Erector parts, carbon fiber drive shaft, fiberglass propeller, nylon cable, hand tooled 1:4 scale replica of 1903 gasoline motor, polyurethane balloon, 1300 cubic feet of helium, dimensions variable, installed at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, May 18–June 21, 2015
© 2018 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

About

“Limits” is a relative term. Like beauty, it is often in the eye of the beholder.
—Chris Burden

From his action-based works of the 1970s to the jaw-dropping technical feats of his later sculptures, Chris Burden (1946–2015) consistently challenged his mental and physical limitations, reflecting on the surreal and precarious realities of contemporary life. Burden was a radical and uncompromising figure with a fierce political consciousness.

Burden earned his MFA in 1971 from the University of California, Irvine, where he studied under the conceptual artist Robert Irwin. Like Irwin—whose site-specific architectural interventions consider the effects of space and light on the viewer—Burden was interested in the staging of spectacle and the ways in which art could complicate one’s understanding of the material world. In his early performances Burden responded to the violent realities of the Vietnam War by putting his body at risk. For Five Day Locker Piece (1971), he locked himself into a school locker, drinking water from a five-gallon bottle stored in the locker above and urinating into a five-gallon bottle in the locker below. That same year, for Shoot, Burden’s friend shot him in the left arm from a distance of fifteen feet. The piece, which lasted only about eight seconds, was recorded on Super-8 film.

In the late 1970s Burden turned to monumental sculpture, considering how the scale and placement of public infrastructure could be manipulated in order to explore the implications of power, speed, and balance. In 1979 he created The Big Wheel, a kinetic work composed of a 1968 Benelli motorcycle placed on a wooden frame and attached to a nineteenth-century metal flywheel. When the bike is mounted and revved, the flywheel is set into motion.

This industrial thrill continued in the 1980s and 1990s with Beam Drop (1984/2008)—a work that involved dropping I beams from a crane into a large pit of wet concrete—and Medusa’s Head (1990), an amorphous mass of wood, steel, cement, rock, and model railroad trains and tracks, evocative of a country-sized chunk of earth that has been extracted and squished into a ball. Beam Drop was re-created in 2008 at the Inhotim Institute in Brazil, where its final, sculptural product is now permanently installed, while Medusa’s Head is held in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

In 2000 Burden began collecting street lamps from the 1920s and 1930s, once used in residential neighborhoods of Los Angeles, and repurposing them as sculptural installations. This led to his celebrated permanent installation Urban Light (2008), comprising 202 lampposts, at the entrance to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Starting in 2003, Burden also constructed large-scale models of bridges—both real and imagined—with thousands of toy construction parts. Tower of London Bridge (2003) mimics every aspect of the famous bridge’s suspension design, including the functional drawbridge, and Three Arch Dry Stack Bridge, 1/4 Scale (2013)—first exhibited in Extreme Measures (2013–14), a major survey of Burden’s work at the New Museum in New York—comprises three elegant arches made of hand-cast concrete blocks held together by gravity.

Burden’s last completed work, Ode to Santos Dumont (2015), is a kinetic airship modeled after Alberto Santos-Dumont’s 1901 dirigible that flew around the Eiffel Tower. Built over a ten-year period, it achieves indoor flight in fifteen-minute intervals and simultaneously embodies both ambitions of industrial invention and reveries of childhood marvels. The first artist to be represented by Larry Gagosian, beginning in 1978.

Fairs, Events & Announcements

Chris Burden: Streetlamps (New York: Gagosian, 2017)

Online Reading

Chris Burden
Streetlamps

Chris Burden: Streetlamps is available for online reading from August 9 through September 7 as part of the From the Library series. The comprehensive book explores Chris Burden’s iconic work with antique streetlamps. Five major streetlamp sculptures are highlighted, all of which are lavishly documented from conception through installation. The works are further illuminated with texts by Russell Ferguson, Christopher Bedford, and George Roberts; a conversation between Michael Govan and Chris Burden; and a photo essay by Ari Marcopoulos. This was the 500th book the gallery published, which was an exciting and fitting publication to mark the achievement as Burden was among the first artists to work with Larry Gagosian, starting in 1976.

Chris Burden: Streetlamps (New York: Gagosian, 2017)

Adam McEwen, Escape from New York, 2014 (still from “Battery Tunnel”) © Adam McEwen

Online Exhibition

Broadcast
Alternate Meanings in Film and Video

You’re only as young as the last time you changed your mind.
—Timothy Leary

Gagosian is pleased to present Broadcast: Alternate Meanings in Film and Video, an online exhibition of artists’ films and videos viewable exclusively on gagosian.com. The exhibition will be organized into a series of “chapters,” each lasting two weeks. The first chapter begins on Tuesday, May 19, 2020.

Broadcast: Alternate Meanings in Film and Video employs the innate immediacy of time-based art to spark reflection on the here and now, taking the words of famed psychologist and countercultural icon Timothy Leary as its starting point. 

Adam McEwen, Escape from New York, 2014 (still from “Battery Tunnel”) © Adam McEwen

Installation view, American Pastoral, Gagosian, Britannia Street, London, January 23–March 14, 2020. Artwork, left to right: © Theaster Gates, © Adam McEwen, Thomas Moran, © Richard Prince, © Banks Violette, © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Lucy Dawkins

Tour

American Pastoral

Thursday, March 5, 2020, 6:30pm
Gagosian, Britannia Street, London

Join Gagosian for a tour of the group exhibition American Pastoral. The show juxtaposes modern and contemporary works with historical American landscapes ranging from Albert Bierstadt’s depiction of the sublime in Sunset over the River (1877) to Edward Hopper’s tranquil seaside scene, Gloucester Harbor (1926). Gagosian’s Alice Godwin will focus on a select grouping of exhibited works that seek to challenge the idealized vision of the American Dream that has long been a rich topic of inquiry for artists in the United States. To attend the free event, RSVP to londontours@gagosian.com. Space is limited.

Installation view, American Pastoral, Gagosian, Britannia Street, London, January 23–March 14, 2020. Artwork, left to right: © Theaster Gates, © Adam McEwen, Thomas Moran, © Richard Prince, © Banks Violette, © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Lucy Dawkins

See all News for Chris Burden

Museum Exhibitions

Chris Burden, L.A.P.D. Uniforms, 1993, installation view, Made in California: Art, Image and Identity, 1900–2000, Los Angeles County Museum of Art © Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Museum Associates/LACMA

On View

Chris Burden in
States of Mind: Art and American Democracy

Through December 19, 2020
Moody Center for the Arts, Rice University, Houston
moody.rice.edu

Reflecting on some of the most pressing topics facing American democracy, States of Mind is timed to coincide with the 2020 presidential election in order to encourage dialogue around current social and political issues. Many of the works on view examine the status of our country’s founding principles of freedom and equality, while others engage with questions of voting access, gun control, and immigration policies—three issues that are common throughout the United States and that are of particular concern to Texas. The exhibition does not attempt to cover the myriad complexities of a democratic government but rather invites viewers to consider timely yet recurrent questions around these themes. Work by Chris Burden is included.

Chris Burden, L.A.P.D. Uniforms, 1993, installation view, Made in California: Art, Image and Identity, 1900–2000, Los Angeles County Museum of Art © Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Museum Associates/LACMA

On View

All of the Above
2011–2020

Through December 27, 2020
Kanal–Centre Pompidou, Brussels
kanal.brussels

Curated by artist John Armleder, All of the Above was inspired by his memories of feeling that he was being observed in return by the cultural artifacts he saw when he visited museums and temples as a child. This exhibition seeks to reproduce that experience by presenting a constellation of works by more than forty artists on a large multilevel platform to form a landscape that visitors can explore from a distance. Work by Chris Burden, Olivier Mosset, and Blair Thurman is included.

Chris Burden, The Atomic Alphabet, 1980 © Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

On View

Disonata
Arte en sonido hasta 1980

Through March 1, 2021
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid
www.museoreinasofia.es

This exhibition, whose English title is Disonata: Art in Sound up to 1980, analyzes the development of sound as a creative field of visual arts differentiated from music across the first eighty years of the twentieth century. The show reflects the efforts of artists who resorted to sound beyond its traditional use in such manifestations as mixed-media work, poetry, and theater. Work by  Chris Burden and Nam June Paik is included.

Chris Burden, The Atomic Alphabet, 1980 © Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Chris Burden, Metropolis, 2004 © 2020 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Keizo Kioku

Closed

Chris Burden in
Where We Now Stand: In Order to Map the Future [2]

October 12, 2019–April 12, 2020
21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan
www.kanazawa21.jp

This exhibition reinterprets work from the museum’s collection to examine the world today. Work by Chris Burden is included.

Chris Burden, Metropolis, 2004 © 2020 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Keizo Kioku

See all Museum Exhibitions for Chris Burden

Press

See all Press