Chris Burden’s work has become a permanent fixture in the creative landscape of Los Angeles. While writing this blog over the years, Burden was revealed to me in many different forms. The most obvious was from his signature massive installation of Urban Light, a sea of 202 1920’s street lamps that he sourced and refurbished since 2000 and later installed at LACMA in 2008. HIs collection of these lamps originally began with the parts of 2 lamps he sourced at the Pasadena Rose Bowl Flea Market. It’s a piece that has become indelibly linked to Los Angeles as a landmark, destination and cinematic backdrop.
When I was introduced to Chris Burden’s Performance Art work in 2012 at L.A. Raw I was amazed to see the disturbingly dark, destructive themes of his work during these years but when taken in context they reflect the challenges of the time in which they were created.
Perhaps what was pleasantly shocking to me was that one of Los Angeles’ beloved Pulitzer Prize winning food writers began his career as a performance artist assisting Chris Burden in the late ’70’s. (Tangent: this story is a wonderfully hilarious and insightful tangent about performance art and the genesis of an unlikely friendship).
Metropolis II is a manic mesmerizing look at cars moving through this expansive labyrinth of roads and byways. It is a fantastically captivating piece that inspired this rather corny 2012 piece I wrote about at self-driving cars and transportation in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles has celebrated his career in many different ways which expanded his reach to individuals who may not otherwise experience his work. His influence and how his creativity has resonated with many. Burden’s career was anything but predictable and he pushed many creative and personal boundaries. His vision and creativity will be missed, but his legacy shines on.