Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice
There are currently no items available for purchase in this Department. Search our Auction Archives below to find item values.

Chris Burden (American, b.1946)


Also known as:  Burden, Christopher

Birth Place: Boston, MA United States


Chris Burden (April 11, 1946 - May 10, 2015) was a sculpture and installation artist whose politically charged performance art pieces of the 1970s helped form the zeitgeist of the era. Influenced by Dadaism and the work of Marcel Duchamp he put himself in harm’s way for his art many times by being electrocuted, shot, drowned, and even nailed. Even in later years, Burden quite often used his body as his canvas. 

Born in Boston, Burden’s family moved early in his life to California. After a motor scooter crash which left him immobile for a long period of time, he became interested in visual art and photography. He received his BA in visual arts, physics, and architecture at Pomona College before going on to study at UC Irvine where he received his MFA under the tutelage of performance art luminary, Robert Irwin in 1971.

The 1970s would signal Burden’s arrival to the performance art world. His thesis was a piece called Five Day Locker Piece (1971) which required Burden to be locked inside his locker for five days. His most well-known performance piece was Shoot (1971). For this performance, Burden had an assistant shoot him with a .22 caliber rifle. 

The rest of the early seventies was spent doing similarly shocking performance pieces, skewering mass media and the United States’ role in Vietnam. Fire Roll (1973) had Burden set himself on fire. Do You Believe in Television (1976) took an audience to the third floor of a building, then showed them on television monitors that a fire had been lit on the ground floor. 

The end of the 1970s signaled a significant shift, away from performance art and toward large sculptural installations. The Speed of Light Machine (1983) is an experiment with which to see the speed of light, while C.B.T.V. (1977) was a replica and reconstruction of an original mechanical television. During this time, he became a professor at UCLA, a position he held until 2005. 

His sculptures continued to get more and more elaborate, using solar-powered lights, large swaths of wedding fabrics, erector sets, and other non-traditional materials. His work was commissioned by Brandeis University, LACMA, and the New Museum and he mounted exhibitions at the South London Gallery, the Whitney Museum, and MoMA. 

Chris Burden Frequently Asked Questions:

How much are Chris Burden's sculptures worth?

It’s hard to put a price on Burden’s work. Much of it is large scale and not re-sold often. One piece, The Atomic Alphabet (1980) is currently at auction for between $10,000 and $15,000 USD. A high-end Chris Burden piece is valued in the millions of dollars, some pieces can be had in the tens-of-thousands range. 

What are the most famous works by Chris Burden?

Shoot (1971), Fire Roll (1973), One Ton, One Kilo (2009), and Tower of Power (2002)

Read More

Filters (4)
Save "Chris Burden" to My Wantlist Free Appraisal

How do you know what's valuable?

Our Art Value Guide provides free information about how to value your Chris Burden Artwork.

Get Notified of New Matches Create a Wantlist for "Chris Burden"
Create Wantlist
Have Chris Burden Artwork to sell? Ask about cash advances.
Free Appraisal

No result found for "Chris Burden" in items you can appraise.

Refine Your Search:
  1. Check for misspellings.
  2. Use more general keywords.
  3. Remove a selection (if any) from your bread-crumb trail to expand results.
  4. Read the Search Tips (below).
  5. Click here to start over.
Other Options:
  1. Setup a Wantlist for "Chris Burden" and we can notify you by e-mail when this item comes up for auction.
  2. Contact us about consigning to our next auction.

Search Tips

Video Tutorial - Getting the Most out of Search

What is Guided Navigation?

Guided navigation is the ability to add and remove keywords and categorizations of items to filter your results. As you add these filters, they appear in the breadcrumb trail above the search results. You can remove any filter from the breadcrumb trail at any time.

How do I start my search?

Start your search as you've always done. From the home page, catalog home page, or search page, you can select a keyword and choose a coin type such as "Nickels" or "Barber Half Dollars", and then click "Search". Much of the time, this will be all you need!

How do I narrow my search?

You can add a filter in the left column, such as "Category", "Current Bid Range", "Reserve Status", and so on. Each time you make such a selection, the listing of results will become smaller, showing only those items that meet all the criteria you have selected. You can also enter one or more keywords, if that will help your search. Sometimes a new selection will open up new sub-selection possibilities.

How do I expand my search?

You can add or drop fields or keywords from your results at any time. Above the listing of results is a complete list of the filters you have selected. Click on any filter to remove it, and the page will refresh to show all items matching the new broader specifications.

I don't see the category (filter) I am looking for in the Guided Navigation?

The guided navigation section only lists things that contain results. To expand your list of categories, remove one or more criteria from your breadcrumb trail at the top of the results by clicking on it.

Click here for a full tutorial.

Targeting Your Search

Using "quotes" around your search phrase can help narrow the results to exactly what you are interested in. A search Henri Gaston Darien without quotes will return all results that contain either "Henri", "Gaston" or "Darien", in any order. A search for "Henri Gaston Darien" in quotes returns all results with the exact phrase Henri Gaston Darien, in that order.

Try your search first without any search words in the optional search box, then narrow it down.

This will produce more items, and once you see how the items are listed, you can narrow your search results with more accurate words.

Search ALL or search by Category?

If you're looking for only Impressionism and Modernism, choose that category from the drop-down list. If you're searching for items that span multiple categories, choose ALL from the drop-down.

Search just auctions, or just inventory, or both?

The search from our home page covers everything we have to offer, whether in auction or inventory. If you are only interested in either auctions or buy now items, select the appropriate check boxes in the search area ("Search within Inventory" or "Search within Auctions").

Think of the one search word that best describes the item you are looking for and search for that.

Maybe it's a name (like Darien), or a medium (oil), or a year (1870).

When using more than one search word, try using "OR" and "NOT".

When you use multiple words, the search engines will try to find items with all of those words in the description. Try using "OR" and "NOT". If you're interested in all items from 1870 and 1871, you can enter "1870 OR 1871". This would limit your search to just items with either of those two dates in the description. Or, if you are interested in something by Darien, but not done in Oil, then you might search for "Darien NOT Oil".

Avoid punctuation marks unless required.

Don't use commas, periods, dashes, etc., unless required - such as in a name like O'Doul.

Still Can't Find What You're Looking For?

Perhaps we don't have the item you are looking for now, but chances are we will soon. Add the particular item(s) you are looking for to our "My Wantlist" and you'll be notified as soon as it/they become available. If you would like further assistance, please don't hesitate to contact us.