American sculptor, installation artist and performance artist. He studied art under Leon Berkowitz (1919–87) in Washington DC and Hans Hofmann in Massachusetts, before moving to New York to study literature, gaining a BA from Columbia University, New York (1962), and an MA from New York University (1963). He first earned a reputation with performance and installation work in the 1970s. His series of Behaviour Tableaux and Chair Tableaux had a dramatic quality, the former actually involving actors in staged confrontations. Pastoral Chair Tableaux (see 1986–7 exh. cat., p. 34) is typical of the latter series: a simple arrangement of chairs on artificial grass in front of a sky-blue curtain, it suggested narrative without making one apparent. Burton’s chair sculptures emerged out of these works in the late 1970s, and it is these for which he became most famous in the subsequent decade. Initially the work represented a humorous take on popular, conventional types of household furniture, but in 1980 he began the Rock Chair Series which comprised much more monumental, sculpted objects, carved as if from a single boulder with two simple cuts. Following these Burton’s work demonstrated a closer engagement with the history of furniture, his Sling Chair (1982–3; see 1986–7 exh. cat. p. 44) finding a new interpretation of chairs by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Mart Stam and Marcel Breuer’s tubular chairs. Toward the mid-1980s Burton also began a series of interlocking granite chairs, which demonstrated his continuing debt to Minimalism.
From Grove Art Online
© 2009 Oxford University Press