Chris Burden: The Revolutionary Performance Artist


Chris Burden was a renowned American artist known for his revolutionary and controversial performance art pieces. His installations, sculptures, and performances challenged the conventions of art and brought avant-garde concepts to the mainstream art world. In this blog post, we will explore who Chris Burden was, his background, and the impact his art had on contemporary art.

Who was Chris Burden?

Chris Burden was born in 1946 in Boston, Massachusetts, and passed away in 2015. He grew up in a wealthy family in the suburbs of Boston and received a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Pomona College in Claremont, California, in 1969. Burden’s early artistic work incorporated sculpture, installation, and performance art focused on conceptual and minimalist art.

What kind of artist is Chris Burden?

Chris Burden is known for his performance art that often involved him subjecting himself to intense physical and mental discomfort. He often used his body as the medium for his art, pushing his physical and psychological limits to create performances that were often shocking, violent, and dangerous. His performance art was often shocking, but it brought the audience into a new realm of art and encouraged them to question the boundaries of what art is.

Who started performance art?

Performance art emerged in the 1960s and 1970s as a response to the traditional forms of art like painting and sculpture. Performance art involves live performances where the artist creates the work in front of an audience. They often push their bodies to the limits and used their performances as a way to express political, social, and personal themes. Artists like Yoko Ono, Marina Abramovic, and Allan Kaprow were some of the pioneers of performance art.

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The Impact of Chris Burden’s Art

Chris Burden’s art had a significant impact on contemporary art. His performances and installations challenged the conventions of art and opened up new possibilities for artistic expression. His work often dealt with themes of violence, power, and control, and his art was often controversial and politically charged. Some of his most notable works include:


The performance piece Shoot involved Burden being shot in the arm with a .22 caliber rifle at close range. The controversial piece was performed in 1971 at F Space in Santa Ana, California, and caused a public outcry. The intention behind the piece, according to the artist, was to explore our relationship with violence and how it has become embedded in our culture.


Trans-fixed was performed in 1974 at Speedway Avenue in Venice, California. Burden had himself nailed to a Volkswagen Beetle and left hanging in the air for several hours until a friend eventually released him. This performance was another example of Burden pushing his body to extreme limits to create art that was both challenging and provocative.

The Other Vietnam Memorial

The Other Vietnam Memorial was created in 1991 as a response to the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C. Burden’s piece consisted of 58,000 small toy soldiers lined up in a display case to represent the number of U.S. soldiers who died in the war. The piece was intended to critique the politics of war and the government’s role in sending young soldiers to fight in foreign wars.

What happened to Chris Burden?

Chris Burden died in 2015 at the age of 69 due to melanoma. Burden’s legacy lives on through his work, which continues to inspire and challenge audiences across the world.

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Chris Burden was a revolutionary performance artist who used his art to push the boundaries of what was considered acceptable in the art world. His performances often generated controversy, but they also opened up new possibilities for artistic expression. His legacy lives on through his work and the impact he has had on contemporary art.