Scott Burton was born in 1939 in Greensboro, Alabama and moved to Washington, D.C. with his mother when his parents separated. Burton found his passion for art early, studying with the artist Leon Berkowitz while he was in high school and progressing to the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts in Provincetown.
Doubting his ability to make a career as an artist, Burton turned to literature, obtaining a B.A. from Columbia in 1962 and an M.A. from New York University in 1963. During this time, he began a relationship with the painter John Bulton, who introduced him to the New York art community. Throughout the 1960s, Burton attempted to be a playwright and librettist, but in 1965 started writing art criticism. In 1966, he began as an editorial associate at ARTnews, under the editorship of Thomas B. Hess and eventually became an editor himself.
By the late 1960s, Burton began staging performances that featured men interacting with found furniture. In 1975, he realized his first sculpture in bronze, initiating the sculptural work that he would become best known for throughout the 1970s and 80s.
Burton passed away due to AIDS related complications in 1989 at fifty years old. His work is in major institutions including the Tate Modern in London, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American art, both in New York and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. His public art installations are in many cities across America including New York, Seattle, Cincinnati, and Portland.
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