Victor Burgin

Over the past thirty years Victor Burgin’s work has established him as both a highly influential artist and a renowned theorist of the still and moving image. Burgin first came to prominence in the late 1960s as one of the originators of Conceptual Art. In the 1970s his work consisted mainly of large framed photographic sequences, involving printed texts either juxtaposed with or superimposed on the image. At the beginning of the 1990s he turned towards digital video, but video from the point-of-view of photography--for example, Burgin is particularly interested in the relation between stasis and movement.

 

He graduated from the School of Painting at the Royal College of Art, London, in 1965, and then went on to study Philosophy and Fine Art at Yale University School of Art and Architecture, where his teachers included Robert Morris and Donald Judd. Burgin is Professor Emeritus of History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz and Emeritus Millard Chair of Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, London. He was recently a Mellon Fellow and Visiting Professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago, where he produced Prairie for the Chicago Architecture Biennial. He lives and works in Gascony and Paris. 

Press

Yes, Difference Again Victor Burgin, Flash Art International
January 2017
The Limits of Representation William J. Simmons, Aperture
October 20, 2016
Victor Burgin Phillip Griffith, The Brooklyn Rail
October 4, 2016
Destructive Modernism: Two exhibitions of Victor Burgin Hearne Pardee, artcritical
October 1, 2016
Review: Victor Burgin Alex Kitnick, 4 Columns
September 30, 2016
25 Most Collectible Conceptual Artists: Victor Burgin Sara Roffino, Art + Auction
September 2016
9 Art Events to Attend in New York City This Week The Editors, ARTnews
September 6, 2016
Victor Burgin: 20 New York Gallery Exhibitions Everyone Should See This Fall Ben Davis, artnet News
August 25, 2016
Barthes/Burgin at John Hansard Gallery, Southampton John Quin, ArtReview
August 25, 2016
At the National Gallery of Art, A Careful Blending of Photography From the NGA and The Corcoran Louis Jacobson, Washington City Paper
July 13, 2016
"Well-Edited Memorials of Wanderlust": A Brief History of British Conceptual Art Alicia Reuter, ARTnews
April 15, 2016
Review: Tate's Conceptual Art in Britain Mark Hudson, The Telegraph
April 11, 2016
Roland Barthes and Victor Burgin, John Hansard Gallery Bevis Fenner, Aesthetica
March 31, 2016
Review of Victor Burgin: UK 76, Richard Saltoun Gallery, London Isabella Smith, Aesthetica Magazine
January 11, 2016
Victor Burgin
February 2, 2015

By Federico Florian, Art in America

 

"The thoughtful orchestration of visual and textual sequences allows Burgin to describe, with the rigor of the theorist and the lyricism of the artist, the functioning of our psyches—incoherent masses of emotions, recollections and random mental associations."

Victor Burgin: A Sense of Place
December 2013

By Maria Walsh, Art Monthly

 

"After a ten-year dearth of UK exhibitions, Victor Burgin returns with a double whammy."

Victor Burgin: A Sense of Place
November 13, 2013

By Gabriel Coxhead, Time Out London

 

"For the past 40 years, Victor Burgin’s art has essentially been about a single subject: the relationship between image and text. During the 1970s and ’80s, this basically meant black-and-white photographs accompanied by words, either overlaid or framed separately. Yet if the format sounds simple, the results are deeply complex and provocative – as shown in his seminal ‘UK76’, the first series seen by the visitor to this extensive survey of the influential English conceptualist, held in the cavernous and atmospheric P3 building."

Victor Burgin: On Paper, Richard Saltoun Gallery, London
November 7, 2013

In Aesthetica Magazine

 

"Burgin’s first solo exhibition at a private gallery in London since 1986, this new show races back to the early days and paper-based works of the 1960s and his breakthrough to prominence as an originator of Conceptual Art, through the 1970s and 1980s, up to today."

Other Criteria: Victor Burgin
May 2013

Interview with David Campany, Frieze

 

"From his Conceptual art of the 1960s to his recent computer-generated works, Victor Burgin has consistently explored the virtual nature of images and words."

Victor Burgin: Between
Spring 2013

By David Campany, aperture

 

"Burgin makes photographic work like no other artist, but his themes and motifs are drawn from experiences common to us all – the modern city, the structures of family, language as something that forms and reforms us, the power of images, principles of government, memory and history."

Victor Burgin: Limited Optimism
Autumn 2012

In Source Magazine

 

"For most of modern history the role of the arts has been to accommodate non-consensual thought and provide a space for intellectual and formal diversity and complexity, but this role has declined dramatically over past decades."

Victor Burgin: Parallel Texts
June 2012

By Jennifer Thatcher, Art Monthly

 

"Following Situational Aesthetics in 2010, Parallel Texts is the second recent retrospective anthology of Victor Burgin's writings. A time to take stock now that he is in his seventh decade but not, it seems, to relinquish control."

Art and Politics: A Reappraisal An Interview with Victor Burgin
July 30, 2010

By Hilde Van Gelder, Eurozine

 

"In his highly influential book Thinking Photography (1982) Victor Burgin famously warns arists not to succumb to the romantic myth of inspiration and originality."

Is there a doctor in the house? A riposte to Victor Burgin on practice-based arts and audiovisual research
November 2008

By Desmond Bell, Journal of Media Practice

 

"Given Burgin's stature both as a distinguished conceptual artist and as a critical theorist, his opinions have been attended to eagerly. In this short article I seek to respond to some of the issues he raises."

Victor Burgin’s meaningful cityscape and the legacy of socially-responsive narrative view painting
July 2008

By Dr. Caroline Igra, Journal of Visual Arts Practice

 

"Victor Burgin’s search for meaning within the modern cityscape reflects the attempt to build depth into a genre that, by definition, is superficial in nature."

RE-reading Camera Lucida: Viewing Barthes through Victor Burgin
July - August 2007

By Natalie Bell, Afterimage

 

"The first time I read Camera Lucida I was on the train from Cusco to Machu Picchu, Peru, which travels alongside the Urubamba River in the Sacred Valley of the Incas in the Andes. At that moment, I was interested in photography's role in objectifying a ruin and objectifying (a) people. In my rereading with Burgin, I found myself not only questioning my role but also reconsidering the phenomenology of my interpretation."

In videos, seeing is experiencing; Victor Burgin's 'Little House' is haunting
March 29, 2007

By Cate McQuaid, The Boston Globe

 

"For decades, Burgin has been a leading light of conceptual art and an avowed feminist. 'The Little House' patiently and methodically leads us into territory fraught with the tension between desire and its pale satisfaction."

Victor Burgin: Christine Burgin Gallery
September 2005

By Martha Schwendener, Artforum

 

"Victor Burgin's recent video, The Little House, 2005, points out that even in earlier eras design was linked to everything from natural urges and social constructs to sexual desire to the creation of narrative."

Art in Review; Victor Burgin
April 29, 2005

By Roberta Smith, The New York Times

 

"The veteran English Conceptualist Victor Burgin has more than 35 years of art and writing to his name, so it is dangerous to generalize about his achievement. Still, the video 'The Little House,' in his 11th gallery show in New York, may be one of his best efforts."

Some Cities by Victor Burgin
June 1, 2004

By Molly B Hankwitz, Leonardo Reviews

 

"Occasionally it seems the form of a book speaks more of its overall intention than form might ordinarily imply. There is a subtlety of meaning to be derived from artist/theorist Victor Burgin’s new work on his travels, Some Cities, a 223 page book with 175 black and white photographic illustrations in paperback. It is actually a photographic artists’ book with text."

Victor Burgin
January 2, 2003

By Morgan Falconer, Frieze

 

"Victor Burgin has crossed the Atlantic so many times in the past 40 years that the question of who has rightful national ownership of him is surely moot. Yet it still seems amusing that it has taken an American, the Arnolfini's Catsou Roberts, to revive him in England."

Victor Burgin
November 2002

In Art Monthly

 

"The Arnolfini's 'Listen to Britain'--a self-described monographic exhibition--succeeds despite a meagre budget while falling not entirely outside the majestic shadow of Burgin's retrospective."

Victor Burgin at Fundació Antoni Tàpies
June 2001

By John Slyce, Art Monthly

 

"This retrospective makes clear that Burgin is resolutely flexible in the ways he deals formally with conceptual issues that were first fixed upon in his early work and still inform his work today."

Victor Burgin: Nietzsche's Paris
November 2, 2000

By Jeremy Melvin, The Architects' Journal

 

"In Victor Burgin's video installation Nietzsche's Paris , the melancholy of the excluded party in a love triangle pervades a garden of learning."

Victor Burgin at the AA on the experience of time
October 19, 2000

By Clare Melhuish, The Architects' Journal

 

"In counterpoint to Ed Soja's recent talk in London, in which he suggested that 'for the first time in 150 years people are thinking about space with the same expectation of insight as with time and history', Victor Burgin's presentation at the Architectural Association (AA) last week proposed that 'time has [recently] had comparatively little attention'."

Some Cities by Victor Burgin
September 5, 1996

In The Architects' Journal

 

"Some Cities is an elliptical record of certain stops on Burgin's journey from Sheffield to Santa Cruz--'my aim is to recall some traces some cities have left in me,' he says."

Victor Burgin
Spring 1991

Interview with Laura Cottingham, Journal of Contemporary Art

 

"What I would like to see now, though, is going to be much harder to get. I would like to see the creation of a critical and curatorial climate in which long-term critical projects in art can be sustained and flourish. I would like to see novelty and 'mediability' displaced from their present positions as paramount aesthetic values. I would like to see just a little less of museums being led by the nose by fashion. This is even more politically important now that being 'right on' is becoming chic."

"Between" by Victor Burgin at the ICA, London
May 16, 1986

By Jozef Gross, The British Journal of Photography

 

"Burgin, mindful of the great debates concerning Art and Art Theory of the early Soviet Revolutionary period, thought it the right time to revive the controversy."

Victor Burgin
May 1, 1986

By Tony Godfrey, Art Monthly

 

"For anyone concerend with how art deals with the representation of women and sexuality, how art can subvert normal ideology Burgin's work remains crucuial. Here as in all his best work he is neither hectoring nor obfuscating: he presents us with certain structures, certain related fragments, the putting together of which is at once educational and satisfying."

Victor Burgin
November 1, 1976

By Peter Smith, Art Monthly

 

"Burgin sets out to reveal the codes and structures of publicity by employing the mechanics of the system as a 'emthod of explanation' for the way in which our society becomes ever more fragmented and pointless."