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Chris Burden '69 Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Renowned artist Chris Burden ’69 has received the prestigious 2009 Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement from the College Art Association. Announced in January, the award will be presented on February 25 in Los Angeles at the 97th annual CAA conference.

Burden rose to fame as a controversial performance artist in the early 1970s with a series of dangerous pieces that tested the limits of his endurance. For Shoot (1971), an assistant shot Burden in the arm. In Trans-fixed (1974), Burden was nailed face-up to a Volkswagen Beetle in a crucifixion pose. Other performance pieces found him shooting at a jet passing overhead, crawling through glass, and laying down in heavy traffic on a crowded street.

He later began producing mechanical, engineered sculptures like B-Car (1975), a lightweight car he said could achieve 100 miles per hour at 100 miles per gallon, and Ghost Ship (2005), a self-navigating yacht that completed on a 330-mile cruise. Recent work includes What My Dad Gave Me (2008), a 65-foot-tall sculpture built from painstakingly recreated Erector Set components and installed in New York City’s Rockefeller Center, and Urban Light (2008), an installation of 202 vintage lampposts located at the new Broad Center Art Museum at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Burden, who received his MFA from UC Irvine, taught art at UCLA from 1978 to 2005.

“The College Art Association's Lifetime Achievement Award is the most prestigious recognition an artist who has pursued a career creating art and inspiring students can receive,” says Kathleen Howe, the Sarah Rempel and Herbert S. Rempel ‘23 Director of the Pomona College Museum of Art and professor of art history.

“Chris Burden's practice as artist and his example as teacher engaged some of the most volatile critical issues of the time. A Lifetime Achievement Award might imply completion, but Mr. Burden's achievements continue--in recent installations in Los Angeles and at Rockefeller Center in New York, he continues to present art that compels bodily experience.”

Burden’s award is one of several given every year by the CAA, but it is the only lifetime achievement award offered for an artist. The College Art Association represents practitioners and interpreters of visual arts and culture, and has 16,000 individual and institutional members. For more information on the CAA awards, please visit www.collegeart.org/awards.