On October 2, the New Museum opened their exhibition "Chris Burden: Extreme Measures," which is considered to be the first New York survey of the artist and his first major exhibition in the US in over 25 years.
In our Everything You Need to Know About Chris Burden's Art Through His Greatest Works piece, we explore the defining works that make Burden's work so important in the context of this exhibition and current events (read: government shutdown). Only yesterday, the day after the exhibition opened, there was a highly publicized shooting in Capitol Hill, which reminded us art nerds of his November 19, 1971 piece Shoot, where Burden allowed himself to get shot in the arm by a friend.
In many ways, Burden's work seems more relevant now than ever. In an interview with the BBC (highlighted in the exhibition's Rizzoli book, out on October 22), he compared the act of getting shot to "entertainment" and called it "as American as apple pie."
This morning, Gallerist recovered an article about Burden from an August 1989 issue of People magazine, where he was asked about being crucified to a Volkswagen for the piece Trans-fixed, in addition to the larger scope of his physically and mentally challenging works. He said,
"It was worse when I was sewn into a bag and hung on a gallery wall between two paintings. Now that hurt."
Of the hype around his work, he said,
"It surprises me that people care so much. They think I'm taking advantage of them. I'm not. I just want to give concrete answers to questions that might not otherwise get answered. My works are tools to make people think."
Of Shoot, he says,
"A high school football star gets more abuse than I did. I'm not into pain at all. I'm a total chicken. I wear my seat belt."
It closes with a captivating, somewhat prescient quote,
"In a way my art is like advanced-level physics. Most people don't understand it. But someday, I think they will."