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Artists Think: The Late Works of Ian Burn

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)


31 Mar 1997 to 30 Jun 1997

Guest Curator: Ann Stephen

about the exhibition

Australian artist Ian Burn (1939-1993) is recognised internationally as a major figure in Conceptual art. His artistic practice and writings on art continue to inform critical debate in Australia. Living abroad from 1964, he worked for over two decades in collaborative cultural practices, first as a member of the New York artists’ group Art and Language. After his return to Australia in 1977, Burn worked as a journalist and designer for the union movement in Sydney.

This exhibition, curated by Ann Stephen, examined Burn’s return to painting in the late 1980s. It included some 40 works, starting with drawings that reflected on the representation of self and place and culminating in three major series: 'Value added’ landscapes (1992-3), This is not… (1992-3) and Artists think (1993). A number of earlier works were included to show Burn’s recurring concerns with the ambiguities of perception and language.

Burn’s late works were made in a short, intensely productive period before his accidental drowning in 1993. Overlaying found landscape paintings with his own texts, Burn reflected upon the relationships between professional and amateur art practice, seeing and reading, and landscape as a site of conflicting influence in Australian art.

This exhibition was organised by Monash University Gallery.