The Power Institute Foundation for Art and Visual Culture

Ian Burn: Collected Writings 1966–1993


Edited by Ann Stephen


“A sense of art history is part of the critical basis on which artists construct ‘a future’ of art. But the question is, which sense of art history will be shaping that future?

Art history has always been far too important to be left up to art historians.”

 —Ian Burn, 1982


Ian Burn has been described as many things: an activist, a trade-unionist, a journalist, an art critic, a curator and an art historian—or, as he once described himself in a moment of self-deprecating alienation, ‘an ex-conceptual artist’.

Born in Geelong in 1939, Burn studied painting in Melbourne and went on to live and work in London and New York. Burn moved back to Australia in 1977 and passed away in 1993 at the age of 53.

Burn sought to grapple with how art history intersects and engages with contemporary art and political debate, arguing for a decentred view of the world. His legacy is international and can be seen in retrospective exhibitions as recent as 2022, and his work remains a key touchstone in art history.

Edited by Burn’s friend, frequent collaborator and eminent art historian, Dr Ann Stephen, this volume brings together 49 pieces of Burn’s own agile and expansive writings alongside a vast collection of his artworks. The collection concludes with reflections on Burn’s life and work from prominent figures and past collaborators in the form of memorial lectures.



Published by Power Publications, KW Institute for Contemporary Art and Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther und Franz König. Design and typesetting by Robert Milne. 

ISBN 978-3-7533-0423-6
Softcover with dust jacket
776 pages
124 illustrations (18 colour, 106 black and white)
165 x 234 mm
1408 gms

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