Editor’s note: The internationally renowned conceptual artist, who attended graduate school at UC Irvine and staged some of his most controversial performance art in Orange County, died on Sunday. We ran a feature on his installation piece in the November 2014 issue of the magazine, and have posted it here in Burden’s memory.
Prepping Chris Burden’s “A Tale of Two Cities” (portion shown here) for the Orange County Museum of Art’s current exhibition, “The Avant-Garde Collection,” was much more involved than hanging a painting. Thousands of items comprise this sprawling diorama of rival 25th century feudal states, last exhibited at the museum seven years ago. Burden, a legendary art provocateur, created it in 1981, and the Newport Beach museum has owned it since 1987. It takes up a lot of storage space—27 crates—but it’s an important part of the permanent collection. The artist received his master’s from UC Irvine and the museum hosted his first retrospective. “When he made this, he was considered one of the most respected and cutting-edge artists,” chief curator Dan Cameron says. “This is one of a half-dozen pieces that are indispensable to understanding Chris Burden.”—Anastacia Grenda