We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.

🛈 Find out what you need to know before visiting


'Artists think...' No 1



Ian Burn

Australia, United States of America, Australia

29 Dec 1939 – 29 Sep 1993

Alternate image of 'Artists think...' No 1 by Ian Burn
Alternate image of 'Artists think...' No 1 by Ian Burn
Alternate image of 'Artists think...' No 1 by Ian Burn
  • Details

    Media category
    Mixed media painting
    Materials used
    oil on cardboard, wood
    29.0 x 38.5 x 4.5 cm each panel
    Rudy Komon Memorial Fund 2007
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Ian Burn Estate

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Ian Burn

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Ian Burn had a vital role in the international development of conceptual art in London and New York from 1965-1977. On returning to Australia Burn became involved in the labour movement and only intermittently made art over the next ten years. Burn began making art again in the late 1980s and the ‘Artist’s think’ series were made shortly before he died in 1993.

    In the early 1990s Burn returned to painting – but it was a mediated return where ‘painting’ itself is located within an interlocking matrix of references to vision and language, production and reception. The paintings themselves in these works are amateur landscapes – in the ‘Value added landscape’ series from 1992-3 they were found landscapes from junk shops; in the ‘Artists think’ series they would seem to be landscapes by Burn from the late 1950s when he began painting as a Sunday amateur.

    The paintings, of a uniform size on cardboard, were reframed by Burn in primary colours – red, yellow, blue – with text of a corresponding colour overlaying the original canvas. The primary colours suggest early modernist abstraction and design. In the text Burn makes the point of the primacy of both thought and vision to artists. ‘Artists think’ is a statement that values ideas and concepts, but thinking with their eyes and their eyes open suggests that a purely conceptual approach can also be limiting. In overlaying this particular text over amateur landscape paintings Burn also seems to suggest that our preconceptions of what constitutes landscape art shape how we see and experience place itself.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 2 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 1 publication

Other works by Ian Burn

See all 11 works