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BURN, Ian Lee (1939-1993)

BURN, Ian Lee (1939-1993)

Conceptual artist, Ian Burn, was a leading figure in Australian art and known internationally in Europe and the United States.

The son of E F Burn, he was born at Geelong on 29 December 1939, and educated at Geelong College as a day student from 1 June 1944 to his departure in December 1955. He left College to attend the National Gallery School in Melbourne.

He left Australia to work in London and New York to become a member of the influential conceptual art group, Art and Language Collective. By the 1970s, when he returned to Australia he had firmly established his international reputation. He then became involved in Sydney’s leading conceptual art gallery Central Street Gallery and taught in the Fine Arts Department of Sydney University before becoming in 1979 a founding member of the Art Workers Union and in 1981 a founding member and director of Union Media Services. Always politically active, he worked for this group as a journalist. He continued to create, write and curate until his death. His work is held in the Collections of the Museum of Modern Art, NY, the Australian National Gallery in Canberra and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

He died tragically, on the New South Wales coast while swimming with his daughters, attempting to save them after they were swept into deep water at Pretty Beach near Bawley Point.

His brother, Robert Frank Burn OAM, was also educated at Geelong College.

Sources: Obituary-Sydney Morning Herald 30 Sep 1993 p 21; Michael Hutak, ‘Ian Burn Lost’-Sydney Morning Herald 30 Sep 1993 p 24; Obituary- New York Times 9 Oct 1993 p 30; Ann Stephen, The Art and Politics of Ian Burn. MUP, 2007.
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