Jack Burnham

Jack Wesley Burnham Jr. (born New York City, November 13, 1931 – February 25, 2019) was an American writer on art and technology, who taught art history at Northwestern University and the University of Maryland. He is one of the main forces behind the emergence of systems art in the 1960s.[1]

American art historian
For the English cricketer, see Jack Burnham (cricketer). For the English footballer, see Jack Burnham (footballer).

. . . Jack Burnham . . .

Burnham received a BFA from the Yale School of Art in 1959 and a MFA in 1961.

From 1955 until 1965 he worked as a sculptor, often created sculptures that included light. In the 1960s he started teaching art history at Northwestern University, and became chairman of their art department. He was a Fellow at MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies from 1968 to 1969. In the 1980s he moved to the University of Maryland and again chaired the art and art history departments.

Retiring in the 1990s, Burnham lived in Hyattsville, Maryland, immersed in Kabbalah.[2] He suffered from Alzheimer’s disease in his later life. He moved to Connecticut in the early 2010s.

Jack Burnham worked as a writer, and in the 1960s and 1970s made important contributions as an art theorist, critic and curator in the field of systems art.[3] In systems art the concept and ideas of process related systems and systems theory are involved in the work to take precedence over traditional aesthetic object related and material concerns. Burnham named Systems art in the 1968 Artforum article “System Esthetics”: “He had investigated the effects of science and technology on the sculpture of this century, and saw a dramatic contrast between the handling of the place-oriented object sculpture and the extreme mobility of Systems sculpture”.[4]

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. . . Jack Burnham . . .

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