Christopher Lee “Chris” Burden (April 11, 1946 – May 10, 2015) was an American artist working in performance, sculpture and installation art.
Burden’s work is featured in prominent museum collections such as the LACMA and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Tate Gallery, London; the Middelheimmuseum, Antwerp, Belgium; the Inhotim Centro de Arte Contemporanea, Brazil; the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, among others.
Burden was represented by Gagosian Gallery from 1991 until his death. In 2009, a deal that Gagosian Gallery had struck to buy $3 million in gold bricks for Burden’s work One Ton, One Kilo was frozen when it turned out that the bricks had been acquired from a Houston-based company owned by financier Allen Stanford, who was later charged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and sentenced to 110 years in prison for cheating investors out of more than $7 billion over 20 years in one of the largest Ponzi schemes in American history. As of 2013, the gallery’s gold has been frozen while the SEC investigates Stanford and One Ton One Kilo cannot be mounted until the gold bullion is released.
Burden was married to multi-media artist Nancy Rubins.He lived and worked in Los Angeles, California. His studio is located in Topanga Canyon. From 1967 to 1976, Burden was married to Barbara Burden, who documented and participated in several of his early artworks.
Burden was referenced in David Bowie’s 1977 song “Joe the Lion”, Laurie Anderson’s 1977 song “It’s Not the Bullet that Kills You – It’s the Hole (for Chris Burden)” on the double LP “Airwaves”, and in the diary of Nathan Adler from the David Bowie album “1. OUTSIDE”. He was also mentioned in the Jeff Lindsay book “Dexter by Design”, and in Norman Mailer’s book “The Faith of Graffiti”. The poem “Doomed (1975)” by David Hernandez in his 2011 collection Hoodwinked describes the Burden installation of the same name in Chicago.
On May 10, 2015 Burden died 18 months after having been diagnosed with melanoma. He was 69.