Chris Burden

Four TV Commercials, 1973-77/2000

T.V. Ad: Through the night softly
Poem for L.A.
Chris Burden Promo
Full Financial Disclosure

Courtesy of the artist

Chris Burden Promo was first aired in 1976 in LA and NY. Art historian Dieter Daniels writes that Burden “had to buy the air time in the name of a non-profit organization […] as an American law prohibits individuals from advertising themselves directly on television.” It is an early example of the artist’s interest in challenging media structures. Burden describes the project as follows:

[In 1976] I purchased 24 30-second commercial spots on two New York television channels, Channel 4 and Channel 9, and 21 spots on three Los Angeles channels, Channel 5, Channel 11 and Channel 13. My «ad» consisted of a series of names: «Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Chris Burden.» The series was repeated twice and followed by the disclaimer «© 1976 paid for by Chris Burden—artist.» The names were written in bold graphics - yellow letters on a blue ground. The individual names zoomed forward, starting very small and increasing in size until they filled the entire screen. As the names became readable, I spoke them aloud. Statistics state that the first five artists named are the best known in the USA, and I convinced several station managers that my name ‹Chris Burden› was also the name of an art business, and they agreed to sell me air time. This commercial was broadcast in Los Angeles and New York over twenty times in the normal commercial break at a peak viewing period.

(Sources: Chris Burden, Beyond the limits, exhibition catalogue MAK, Cantz: Ostfildern, 1996, p. 132. Chris Burden, as commented in a DVD edition of his TV Commercials, New York, 2000.)

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