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Death, by Chris Burden

Chris Burden, a Conceptualist With Scars, Dies at 69, read Marquel, TPVs NYTimes What’s Next Section correspondent, and laughed at the joke.

Burden is famous for shocking performance art. He had an assistant shoot him with a .22 rifle. That work was called “Shooting.” Surprise surprise.


Another well known work had Burden nailed like Christ onto the top of a Volkswagen. Why a Volkswagen?  It’s a question that has nagged historians for… well,  for a time.

His first wife divorced him.  In a well publicized piece he had flicked matches onto her nude body.  He crawled across broken glass in another piece and locked himself in a tiny metal box for his graduate thesis in art school.  You can send them to school but you can’t make them learn.

But this latest piece has the art world abuzz. Death, by Chris Burden.  He’s been shot,  locked up,  cut up,  nailed. This time he died.  The hospital of course refused his body,  something he no doubt anticipated,  because they didn’t want to be part of a “quasi artistic spectacle.”

So the body has been seen traveling across town in a vehicle for several days.  The work is called,  appropriately,  “Ambulance. “ The critics are unsurprisingly having a heyday.  Nobody knows whether “Death” is better than “Ambulance” or vice versa.

One thing is almost certain.  This is not Burden‘s last performance. Most predict several more works before his career ends,  as all do.  But first everyone is on edge for “Decomposition.” Most hope then we’ll find the answer to the art world’s most weighty question,

Why a Volkswagen?


By MARQUEL: Death, by Chris Burden



  1. Marquel is Swiftian. Watching Burden’s performance it make me think of Marina or whatever the name of that Serbian artist it.

  2. Maybe you are right, Sam, Marquel takes risks with his readers. He believes us as smart as he is…and we are 🙂


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