Chris Burden’s 40 Foot Stepped Skyscraper (2011) will be featured in artgenève/estates of artgenève 2019, an annual fixture presenting a monumental work by a historic artist.
In 2008, Burden’s massive architectural structure What My Dad Gave Me was installed at Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan. One of the greatest technical feats of his oeuvre, the sculpture was built using approximately one million stainless-steel replicas of Erector set pieces, the popular twentieth-century children’s building toy. Though smaller than its 65-foot-high forebear, 40 Foot Stepped Skyscraper attests to Burden’s mastery of even more complex engineering principles. It was built in the approximate form of a ziggurat, with stairs that spiral around and step back from the perimeter as they rise to the sculpture’s apex. By moving around the sculpture, the viewer can conceive of climbing to the top, underscoring the tensions between monumental architecture and human possibility.