Jack Wesley Burnham Jr.
Jack burnham is a very influential american writer, curator, artist and teacher.
His first book, Beyond Modern Sculpture: The Effects of Science and Technology on the Sculpture of Our Time, 1968, established him as the pre-eminent champion of art and technology of his generation. Building on this foundation, his second book, The Structure of Art, 1971, developed one of the first systematic methods for applying structural analysis to the interpretation of individual artworks as well as to the canon of western art history itself.
Many of his articles for Arts magazine from 1968-70, where he was Associate Editor (1972-76) and Artforum from 1971-3, where he was Contributing Editor (1971-2), were collected in his third book, The Great Western Salt Works, 1973.
These essays still remain amongst the most insightful commentaries on conceptual art, already suggesting what he now sees in retrospect as the “great hiatus between standard modernism and postmodernism.”
In 1970, at the invitation of Jewish Museum director, Karl Katz, Burnham curated Software, the only major show he has curated to date. In contrast to the numerous art and technology exhibitions which took place between 1966-1972, and which focused on the aesthetic applications of technological apparatus, Software was predicated on the ideas of “software” and “information technology” as metaphors for art. He conceived of “software” as parallel to the aesthetic principles, concepts, or programs that underlie the formal embodiment of the actual art objects, which in turn parallel “hardware.” In this regard, he interpreted “Post-Formalist Art” (his term referring to experimental art practices including performance, interactive art, and especially conceptual art) as predominantly concerned with the software aspect of aesthetic production.
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1959 BFA from the Yale School of Art.
1961 MFA from the Yale School of Art.in 1961.
1955 to 65 Created sculpture, often including light.
1968 to 69 Fellow at MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies.
1970’s Prolific period as a writer, Taught art history at Northwestern University, eventually becoming chairman of the art department.
1980s Chaired the art and art history departments, University of Maryland (College Park campus).
Now retired,lives in Hyattsville, Maryland, immersed in Kabbalah.