Artist CHRIS BURDEN (Day 51 of 365 Days of Art) and 2 Oil Paintings

Hello and Welcome to Day 51 of the 365 Days of Art. art-chirs-burden-performance-artist

Chris Burden (1946–2015) emerged onto the art scene in the early 1970’s, when performance art was just unfolding (following some of the minimalism in the 1960s).

In art school, his Master’s thesis was a bit controversial to the students and faculty at UC Irvine. Burden stayed five days in a small locker (2x2x3′) with 5 gallons of water in a locker above and 5 empty jugs in a locker below. People visited him at random times – even in the middle of the night. In an interview with Ebert (here), Burden shared about the locker experience: “It was like hearing confessions,” he said. “People couldn’t see me, but they knew I was there. They told me about their Army experiences, about things they’d done they were proud of, or ashamed of. I was like a box with ears and a voice. That was interesting. The rest was pretty hard. I was in a fetal position. I could scoot around a little, but I couldn’t bend my knees. The cramps were always there.”

Burden is now most noted for some of his installation sculptures, but early on, it was his performance art (works of self-peril) that brought a lot of attention his way. Like the days in a locker or being drowned, electrocuted, and kidnapped. He also was nailed to a VW Bug, stayed immobile under glass, and another time he disappeared for three days (only went to a hotel, but it caused a stir).  

Burden’s most famous Performance Art act was Shoot (1971) (here) where he had his friend shoot him in the arm with a .22-caliber rifle.

Chris Burden in Shoot, 1971

Burden’s sculptures are quite varied, ranging from metal bridges to 625 cardboard submarines to 202 lampposts.  The lampposts, or Urban Light, are symmetrically arranged posts, making a type of “open-air temple” and they are right outside of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (See the collage above).  I guess the original plan for the museum entrance was to have Jeff Koons’ replica steam locomotive hanging from a 160-foot crane, but they went with Burden’s lampposts instead.  The posts are quite the experience to walk through – and a great photo opportunity!  They almost seem well-timed for our modern culture that has a camera on hand at all times to capture selfies and global sharing. 


Part 2:

I wanted to share a pair of oil paintings I made in late 2012 –  Linked to Narami’s Texture of Tuesday HERE


These two paintings were made to be hung together. I might have been thinking of coral with the bottom one, and the pathway in the top painting is supposed to be this outpouring from the bottom one. I really just started with the first horizon line in the top one. I was not sure “what” I was in the mood to paint, so after grabbing two 8 x 10 canvasses (from a multi-pack) I made the starting horizontal and it all flowed from there. Maybe I was feeling like “the road is long… but there is light at the…..” But the main goal for me at that time was to NOT make realistic duplication pieces. My aim was to paint in a way that would give “my” mind a break. I like duplication, but it uses a different part of the brain and while it might relax some, it was not what I wanted. I was writing a lot for some school classes that year (did way too much in 2012 and paced myself better after that year), and painting this way in 2012 was reprieve. I would stand and paint – stretch a little – and then go back and write some more. I made about ten paintings that year – not super time-consuming, but they all had the same vibe: oil paint, texture, pattern backgrounds, and rich color. I was also experimenting with some fancy new brushes and the oil medium. Since that time, I mostly use a palette knife if I use oils. But it depends on the piece (size, subject, etc.) – because brushes are sometimes needed too.
the pair when they were in the guest room...
the pair when they were in the guest room…they are now in the attic.



Ending thoughts….

A few years ago, Daniel Edmondson, with one of his weekly oil painting tips, advised students to “think more and paint less” (here) and while that might be great advice for some art pieces – like painting a detailed still life or realistic duplication piece with a classical vibe, it was NOT my goal in 2012.

I wanted to “think way less and paint more…” ha! Creating texture and playing with pattern on some easy abstract pieces allowed me to decompress.  

If you are exploring art this year, keep in mind that we change AND our interests keep changing.  And so we should naturally have different seasons pursuing different parts of art.

 I used to get most of my “art needs” met from “teaching” art – which is why I taught that specific subject, but I also had seasons of doing my own watercolors, collage making, sketching, etc.  And  then I have had seasons of not doing, but reading more, going to shows, museums, etc –  And of course I had times of pausing from the visual arts — to pour into other wonderful art forms. 

Chris Burden’s art career is a wonderful example of how professional artists also evolve greatly. Some stay consistent with their work, but others, like Chris, move from edgy performance to grand sculpture, while staying true to who they are and meeting their own needs for that season.  If you want to read more about Burden, go here









19 thoughts on “Artist CHRIS BURDEN (Day 51 of 365 Days of Art) and 2 Oil Paintings

        1. yeah – even though when i see the VX Bug – I feel this societal message – maybe even don’t let your assets rule you…
          or materialism….
          I dunno…
          and, T – you might like his “Shoot” piece a little more if you knew he was also trying to speak up about the Vietnam War:

          “Coming at the height of the Vietnam War, the piece (Shoot) is about many things: trust, violence, the limits and risks of art, the role of the audience, the bravery of artists compared to the duty of soldiers.”

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I guess I’m not into pain 😉 My VX Bug thing has more to do with his hands being nailed to the car than any perceived slight on religion. Same with the shoot. Of course, as you said, a lot has to do with context. And I have nothing against artists speaking freely. And yes, it is the artists job (for some types of art) to make the viewer/audience uncomfortable.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. well eeks – I don’t like the pain thing either – and it is a bit “off” indeed.
          and I guess in Shoot – he was hoping to only get lightly braised – but it hit him more than he expected.
          well i think some of these shenanigans are a type of art – but I like his sculptures better – and some of his displays remind of Pop Art (lines up uniforms – and culture stuff) –

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Good morning, Yvette. I, too, love your paintings. I love the color, the texture, and the mood. I saw lines, form… I love them very much.
    I recently learned that adding a mat to a photo or painting, in some cases, would enhance the photo or painting. (I didn’t see the value of using a mat before.) I copied your paintings and played with a photo editing program. (I hope it is ok. I will delete it, I promise.) I love your paintings even more with a mat (or double mats). 😉
    Have a wonderful day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well I am so honored to hear that!
      You do not have to delete them – and maybe I can posts what you create!
      The first one I had a hard time getting a photo of…
      I will show you the versions later –
      And I thought of giving these to a professor – which is why they have those frames….
      Sometimes I have started with a frame and made a piece for it…
      But this time they were there and seemed to fit….

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Well I bet you are about visit more and more as we see USA thru your and tom’s eyes
          And no way have I been to all the galleries – not even close – but I have lived in different states –
          And so try and hit the big ones…
          But I prefer smaller venues

          Liked by 1 person

        2. So exciting to visit new galleries and hearing your stories of ones visited is educational for us. Isn’t this thing called blogging great in that we get to know people (you) and their travels that we perhaps never would have met along the path of life. Keep sharing if you will.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting story about Burden’s works and a little story about his life. That makes me wonder what he would be like in person.

    Those are very nice paint works of your as specially with both are together like that. I think there are always pro and con for both “think more and do less” and “to more and think less”. I think whatever works for you, that is the way to go.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with the pros and cons – and times for both.
      and you raise a very good question about the personality this guy might have had.
      Like I imagine Delacroix as stuffy and maybe way too serious.
      And even though I have not read a lot about Burden, I bet he had a serious side…. but he might have been cool because sometimes people who are this original have something refreshing about them – they don’t have that highly competitive spirit – they can be ambitious – but not trying to outdo anyone – because they do their own thing….
      they still might have angst trying to come up with the next big jolt…. and so that might have moody times and all – but he was a purebred.
      and I guess when he disappeared for three days = to cause a stir = he went to a motel – but while he was there – he fasted and did nothing.
      this kind of dedication imbued the essence of his work –
      and even if not everyone’s cup of tea- he did have a “unique” kind of style, didn’t he?

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s