Born 1939, Geelong, Victoria. Lived and worked Sydney. Died 1993, Pretty Beach, New South Wales.
Ian Burn was a conceptual artist, curator and writer who spent the first part of his career working in London and New York. It was here that he began working with Art & Language, a collaborative group who produced the publication Art-Language and whose members included artists Roger Cutforth, Joseph Kosuth and Mel Ramsden. Returning to Australia in 1977 Burn became involved in the Art Workers Union (AWU), a political and social platform that championed artists’ rights and helped change the landscape and expectations under which artists worked in Australia. From 1980 onwards, together with artist and social activist Ian Millis, he worked on a number of initiatives to further the cause of the labor movement, including Union Media Services and the Art and Working Life program. Burn died by accidental drowning in 1993.
Key exhibitions of Burn’s work include The Field, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (1968); 1968, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra (1995); and Artists Think: The Late Works of Ian Burn, MCA, Sydney (1996). Burn curated the exhibition Working Art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney in 1985 and Looking at Seeing & Reading, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, University of New South Wales, Sydney (1993). He wrote Dialogue: Writings in Art History (1993) and co-authored The Necessity of Australian Art: An Essay About Interpretation (1989) with Nigel Lendon, Charles Merewether and Ann Stephen. A monograph by Ann Stephen, On Looking at Looking: The Art and Politics of Ian Burn, was published in 2006.
Burn’s work is held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; and Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.