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Chris Burden

Chris Burden
Firstly, I would like to say that when I selected my artist for this project I had no idea what I was getting myself into; I didn’t know if he was a stunt man or an artist at first. This daredevil, Chris Burden, was born in Boston Massachusetts in 1946. He went on to study visual arts and architecture at the University of California, Irvine and shortly after began doing performance art. He is both a performance artist and in his later years a sculptor. Although, Burden doesn’t reveal his motives about many of his performance art pieces many share a similar theme. In a good deal of his art Burden puts himself through some type of physical pain or suffering. A good example of this is his piece titled “shoot? where burden lined up and waited for his friend to shoot him with a .22 caliber rifle. Other works include Deadman, Five Day Locker Piece, Fire Roll, TV Hijack, and Doomed . According to Chris Burden's extreme performance art, “…the point of his art, in addition to making political and social statements, was to illicit discomfort in the audience/observers? (Dvorsky).

Although Burden spent the seventies doing mainly performance art he studied sculpture in his time at the University of California, Irvine and began to do more sculpture work in his old age. Burden says one of the main reasons he was motivated to do performance art was because he did not have much money at the time (West). When asked about his motives for the piece “Shoot? Burden said, “I wanted to be taken seriously as an artist.? Much of Burden’s inspiration stems from the work of Marcel Duchamp and Pablo Picasso (Schjeldahl). Another reason Burden put himself in dangerous situations and/or had pain inflicted on him in his artwork is to catch the attention of his audience in shocking and sometimes discomforting manner. Although some say that his works such as the work “Deadman? and “Shoot? represent social issues during the seventies like the Vietnam War, Burden has not blatantly said any of his works are based on any specific issue. Unlike, other performance artist like Chris Larson who uses many different props and materials to make his art Chris Burden uses mainly his own body as his stage.

Although, Burden and Larson are both performance artist they have more differences than they have similarities. This is very interesting to see two artists in the same field with two very contrasting styles. The most obvious and significant difference between the two is that Larson makes very large scale and intricate machines and stages that are interactive whereas, Burden uses few props but uses his body as his main material for his work. Additionally, Larson makes rehearsed and specifically choreographed movies. Burden’s performances were, for the most part, all live and unrehearsed. Despite some of the inferences made on Burden’s work about social issues he does not really deal with history in his performance work. Many of Larson’s Work’s reference American history, for example, “Larson’s collisions from America’s past, present, and future cultures present a conversation among different and similar worlds. Where people, ideals, thoughts, race, beliefs, art, religions and politics are constantly colliding,? (Crush). Although there are numerous differences between the two artists, they both do an excellent job of capturing the audiences’ attention whether it is through stunning visual settings or through self suffering.

If I were asked to tell a friend about Chris Burden I would absolutely recommend his work to them, although I would have to warn them that they may be a little disturbed by some of his work. This is because I have never been so captured by a form of art before. The passion for art that Burden has astounds me; although some of his work doesn’t seem too amazing to me it is the fact that he is willing to sacrifice his body for his art, for what he loves to do. I believe that passion makes his work special and really makes a statement about what kind of artist he is. Although, I only briefly talked about Burden’s work as a sculptor he is very skilled at that as well. He made a 65 foot tall skyscraper using all Erector Set parts representing his past aspirations to be and architect (West). This demonstrates not only his passion but his creativity and skill, which is why I would recommend Burden to everybody.

Works Cited
"ART; Burden's Bridges: Toys That Fulfilled Their Potential. EBSCOhost. " New York Times 8 Feb. 2004: 31-31.
"Crush Collision." MAEPedia. MAEPedia. 26 Nov. 2008 .
Dvorsky, George. "Chris Burden's extreme performance art." Sentient Developments. 7 May 2007. 26 Nov. 2008 .
Schjeldahl, Peter. "Performance." The New Yorker. 14 May 2007.The New Yorker.26 Nov. 2008 .
West, Kevin. "Public Offering." W. May 2008. W. 26 Nov. 2008 .

I cannot figure out how to post pictures so i am just going to bring a couple to class.