Ian Burn: Collected Writings 1966-1993

Ian Burn sitting at his desk in London.

We're proud to announce a major new publication: the most comprehensive collection of writings by Ian Burn, artist, curator and "ex-conceptual artist", edited by Ann Stephen.

Ian Burn at his desk in Finsbury Park flat, London, 1966.

The Power Institute is very proud to announce a new volume of writings by Ian Burn, edited by Ann Stephen, and stunningly designed by Robert Milne. 

“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 by Robert Milne, managing editors Thomas Melick and Naomi Riddle. 



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Ann Stephen

Ann Stephen is the Senior Curator, University Art Collection, at the Chau Chak Wing Museum at the University of Sydney. Ann's curatorial career over four decades has been in public and university museums. She joined Sydney University Museums as the senior curator of the University Art Gallery in 2009 and has been responsible for the University Art Collection and developing the art exhibition and publication program. As President, Art Association of Australia and New Zealand (2011–14), Ann has been a mentor for early career academics as well as many colleagues in art history and art curatorship. She has curated many exhibitions including those accompanying the following publications including ‘Bauhaus Diaspora’, ‘Modern Times’ and ‘Modernism & Australia’ & her monograph on Ian Burn, ‘On looking at Looking’. In 2015 she was invited to join the Scientific Committee of the European Network for Avant-garde and Modernism Studies. She has been awarded two ARC grants and many prizes for her publications. She was appointed a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 2009. Since 2014, she has been chair of ‘Art Monthly Australasia’.