Chris Burden, creator of LA’s most iconic sculpture “Urban Lights”, a temple-like assemblage of 202 street lights that marks the Los Angeles County Museum’s (LACMA) Wilshire Blvd entrance, died on Sunday of malignant melanoma at his home in Topanga Canyon. He was 69 years old.
Burden produced sculptural and performance art over the past four decades, often exploring the limits of science and technology, power and the human condition. An LA Times article published today takes a look at Burden’s early years as a performance artist, including when he had a friend shoot him in the arm with a rifle for the performance “Shoot” that was recorded on Super-8 film. The LA Times piece has a slide show of photographs giving an overview of many of Burden’s works.
Burden is a southern California favorite. His “Big Wheel” sculpture, where a revving motorcycle powers a giant cast iron flywheel in an homage to french artist Marcel Duchamp, is owned by the Museum of Contemporary Art collection in downtown Los Angeles. “Metropolis II” with its thousands of speeding Matchbox cars plying an Erector Set vertical city is still on exhibit at LACMA, and a favorite for its kinetic look at the rat race of living in a city.
Burden’s final work, “Ode to Santos Dumont” is based on the first flight of a dirigible around the Eiffel Tower in 1901 and is due to be exhibited at LACMA, opening next week.
Los Angeles Times: Chris Burden Dies at 69