"Chris Burden: Extreme Measures"

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Collection The Museum of Contemp
Chris Burden, The Big Wheel, 1979
Barbara Burden
Chris Burden, Dos Equis, 1972
Collection Magasin 3 Stockholm K
Chris Burden, Mexican Bridge, 1998
Courtesy the artist
Chris Burden, The Rant, 2006
Fabric Workshop
Chris Burden, L.A.P.D. Uniforms, 1993
Courtesy the artist
Chris Burden, Three Arch Dry Stack Bridge, 1⁄4 Scale, 2013
Dallas Museum of Art
Chris Burden, All the Submarines of the United States of America, 1987
Chris Burden
Chris Burden, Beam Drop, 1984
Joel Searles
Chris Burden, Beehive Bunker, 2006
erich Koyama
Chris Burden, 1 Ton Crane Truck, 2009
Chris Burden, Shoot, 1971
Chris Burden, You’ll Never See My Face in Kansas City, 1971
Courtesy the artist and Gagosian Gallery
Chris Burden, Trans-fixed, 1974
Courtesy the artist
Chris Burden, Chris Burden, Triple 21 Foot Truss Bridge, 2013
Chris Burden, Full Financial Disclosure,1977
Chris Burden
Chris Burden, Ghost Ship, 2005

I’ve always thought that Chris Burden and Vito Acconci represented the yin and yang of late-1960s body art. Occupying opposite coasts, they both began as practitioners of performance, before switching to sculptural installations. Acconci, the poète maudit, tried to make sense of the human condition. Burden, the brash showman, threw a spotlight on the far limits of experience. Not surprisingly, Acconci has never received anything like this buildingwide New Mu survey of Burden’s work.

The exhibition recaps Burden’s career, from his start as a L.A. wunderkind—who, fresh out of grad school, became an star by getting himself shot in the arm and nailed to a VW, among other self-inflicted travesties. He matriculated to elaborate gizmos and models that celebrate mankind’s genius for building and destroying.

Burden’s performances are collapsed here into a series of three-ring binders holding photos, located in the museum’s officelike fifth floor. The preponderance of space is given to his later projects, which require explanatory texts to fathom. This includes the New Mu’s roof, on which sit a pair of latticed towers that evoke the WTC, but turn out to represent an oddity of L.A.’s building code.

Pieces such as Burden’s mobile of tiny submarines (representing all such vessels in the American fleet) and his giant flywheel propelled by a motorcycle hold up well enough in the New Mu’s cramped galleries. Offering gee-whiz pleasures, they demonstrate Burden’s pioneering role in making art as spectacle.

In the end, the impression Burden leaves is that he’s a big kid with a technocrat’s soul. I had hoped for something more.—Howard Halle

Event phone: 212-219-1222
Event website: http://newmuseum.org
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