In his forty-year career, Chris Burden has been shot, nailed to a Volkswagen, set on fire, electrocuted, and stabbed with pins, all in the name of art. He's shot bullets at a 747 by LAX, hijacked a television interview, built a self-navigating sail boat, and crawled over broken glass in a speedo on Main Street, Los Angeles. Constantly pushing boundaries and prodding at the breaking points of social mores, institutions, and his own body and psyche, Chris Burden has redefined what it means to make art. In an interview with Jim Moisan in 1979, Burden spoke about his early performance work, "It was more like a kind of mental experience for me—to see how I would deal with the mental aspect—like knowing that at 7:30 you're going to stand in a room and guy's going to shoot you... It was almost like setting up fate or something, in a real controlled way. The violence part wasn't that important, it was just a crux to make all the mental stuff happen."
Since the 1980s, Burden has become more invested in his sculptural works that hold the same pointed metaphoric power as his earlier performances. In a way, Trans-fixed (1974), where Burden had himself nailed to a Volkswagen in crucifix form, digs at the religious institution in the same way that Exposing the Foundations of the Museum (1986/2008) literally and metaphorically digs at the museum-as-institution. Across mediums and decades, Burden continues to perform this radical operation. Now he is seeing his first survey in New York, "Chris Burden: Extreme Measures," which opened at the New Museum on Tuesday. Familiarize yourself with the influential artist's career with Everything You Need to Know About Chris Burden's Art Through His Greatest Works.
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