Chris Burden was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1946. Soon thereafter, his family moved to California. He obtained a B.F.A at Pomona College, Claremont, California and later a M.F.A at the University of California in 1971. The early seventies, the period when Chris Burden produced his first mature works, was characterized by the idea that the truly important, viable art of the future would not be with objects, things that you could simply sell and hang on your wall. Art, instead, would address political, social, environmental and technological change. Earth, performance, body, video, computer, narrative and conceptual art became the new mediums. Burden, with his shockingly simple, unforgettable, “here and now” performances shook the conventional art world and took this new art form to its extreme.
The images of Burden that continue to resonate in public mind is of a young man who had himself shot (Shoot, 1971 At 7:45 p.m. I was shot in the left arm by a friend. The bullet was a copper jacket 22 long rifle. My friend was standing about fifteen feet away from me.) electrocuted, (Doorway to Heaven, 1973), impaled, cut (Back to You, 1974;Through the Night, 1973) , drowned (Velvet Water, 1974), kidnapped, locked up ( Five Day Locker Piece, 1971)…Over the past thirty years Burden has produced a multitude of assemblages, installations, kinetic and static sculptures and scientific models.
Chris Burden works and lives in California and has been represented by Gagosian Gallery since 1991. He has had major retrospectives at the Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport Beach, California (1988) and MAK-Austrian Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna (1996). In 1999 Burden exhibited at the 48th Venice Biennale and the Tate Gallery in London. And for the summer of 2008 a 65 foot tall skyscraper made of Erecter set parts, titled What My Dad Gave Me, stood in front of Rockefeller Center, New York City.