Victor Burgin

Victor Burgin. (Image: University of Southampton)

There must be somebody in Sheffield who can provide more information about one of our famous sons. This is a strange one, a man of mystery as far as his birth city is concerned, and worldwide success seems to have separated him from his roots.

Victor Burgin, born at Sheffield in 1941, a distinguished artist and theorist who has made his name with language and photography.

In the sixties he studied at the Royal College of Art and Yale University. While in America he discovered ‘minimal art’, at that time little known in Britain. This raised issues, not only about the form, but the nature of art, and Burgin was one of those artists on both sides of the Atlantic who developed ‘conceptual art’.

He has written numerous books and essays on art theory and criticism, and his chic photo pieces have been exhibited throughout the world.

“Art is not a spectator sport.”

Burgin taught  at Trent Polytechnic, Nottingham, and the Polytechnic of Central London, before moving to San Francisco.

He was nominated for a Turner Prize in 1986, and is Professor Emeritus of History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz; and Emeritus Millard Chair of Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, University of London. In 2015 Burgin was a Visiting Professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago, and in 2016 a Mellon Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also Professor of Visual Culture at Winchester School of Art.

He holds Honorary Degrees at Sheffield Hallam University, as well as the University of Liège.

Victor Burgin. Fiction Film, 1991.

Burgin’s work is in public collections that include Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum and The Tate, London, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, and the Centre Pompidou, in Paris.

“I’ve made it from working class Sheffield to this middle class artistic milieu, and what the f**k am I doing here?”

These days, Burgin appears to split his time between homes in Somerset and Paris.

Photograph by Victor Burgin. In Grenoble, 1981.

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