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Chris Burden

Chris Burden (1946 - 2015) was an American artist who studied architecture, physics and art at Pomona College and the University of California at Irvine. In addition to conceptual and installation art, he was particularly active in the field of body art, which he significantly influenced. With actions in which he exposed himself to danger or inflicted massive physical injuries, he caused quite a stir. In the work iconic shoot (1971), he had himself shot in the arm in a gallery as a commentary on the events of the Vietnam War. "I had an intuitive sense that being shot is as American as apple pie. We see people being shot on TV, we read about it in the newspaper. Everybody has wondered what it's like. So I did it," Burden said of the action.

In later years, he often worked with kinetic sculptures and mechanical and technical arrangements, shifting the risk of injury away from his own body to objects. Well known in particular are his drop installations, created by steel beams dropped from a crane into soft cement.

Chris Burden taught at the University of California at Los Angeles and was part of the American Academy of Art and Science as of 2014. He most recently lived and worked in Topanga, California, where he died of skin cancer in 2015 at the age of 69.


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