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New Museum Family Guide CHRIS BURDEN

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Family Guide

This family guide explores “Chris Burden: Extreme Measures,” a survey of one of the most important living American artists. This exhibition presents a selection of Burden’s work where limits and ideas of control are constantly questioned. Use this guide to examine a few works closely and investigate some big ideas related to the exhibition. GUIDELINES Do not touch the artwork! Walk at all times in the galleries. Adults, please hold the hands of children under the age of five. Food and drink are not permitted in the galleries. Security guards and docents are in the Museum to protect you and the artwork! Please respect their requests.


Second Floor

Third Floor

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Chris Burden b. 1946 Boston, Massachusetts Over the past four decades, Burden has created unique, powerful artworks that have made us rethink the way we understand performance and sculpture. Major themes surrounding his work include power, control, desire, and masculinity.

Fun Facts Although Burden was born in Boston, his family lived in China and Europe when he was a child. Burden’s father was an engineer, which influenced Burden immensely. Burden went to college in Los Angeles, California, where he studied architecture and physics before he majored in fine art. Burden is best known for his early performances from the 1970s. This is Burden’s first major US exhibition since 1988. Four new artworks have never been seen before this show.


1 Ton Crane Truck, 2009

Lobby Gallery

A tow truck with a weight hanging from its crane.

Fun Facts The truck is a 1964 F350 Ford that has been restored by Burden. The weight suspended from the truck’s crane is made out of cast iron. The weight weighs one ton and the crane weighs half a ton. Burden replaced the truck bed with oak, painted the exterior orange, and replaced the tires, seat covers, rubber mats, and visors.

Questions to think about What are some other things that weigh one ton? How is the truck different than one you could see on the street?


A Tale of Two Cities, 1981

Second Floor

An installation of two miniature cities at war with each other.

Fun Facts This installation contains over five thousand toys from all over the world. The sand represents the desert and the house plants represent the jungle. It takes up 1,200 square feet and uses over twenty-six tons of sand. Burden wants visitors to look at this piece through binoculars to see the details. The boulders in A Tale of Two Cities come from Burden’s home, which is in Topanga Canyon, California.

Questions to think about Why do you think Burden made this piece so big when all of its parts are so small? How do you imagine this war being played out? What story might you create about who these people are and why they are fighting?


Mexican Bridge, 1998

Third Floor

A model bridge made of Erector set parts and wood.

Fun Facts This is the first bridge Burden was inspired to create. Burden studied a drawing of the bridge for five years before attempting to build a model of it. The drawing was of a bridge designed in the 1860s in Mexico but never actually built. The original bridge was meant to span a one-thousand-footwide gorge. Unlike Burden’s other bridges, which use Erector set replicas, this bridge is made entirely out of vintage Erector set parts. It took thirty-five thousand toy parts to make this model, which is fifteen feet long and nine feet high.

Questions to think about How is this bridge different from other bridges? Why do you think Burden chose to use toy parts for the construction of this bridge?

Activity: Weight Inspired by the exhibition “Extreme Measures,” think about the weight of everyday objects. Look at the images below. Which objects do you think weigh roughly the same amount? Draw lines connecting the images.








Exhibition Support “Chris Burden: Extreme Measures” is made possible through the lead support of the Henry Luce Foundation. Major support is also provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Lonti Ebers and Bruce Flatt, Gagosian Gallery, Eugenio López, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Aby Rosen and Samantha Boardman. Generous support is provided by the Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica, F.J. Sciame Construction Co., Inc., the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation,LLWW Foundation, Catriona and Simon Mordant, Nicolas Berggruen Charitable Foundation, and Åke and Caisa Skeppner. The International Leadership Council of the New Museum is gratefully acknowledged. The publication for “Chris Burden: Extreme Measures” is made possible by the Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson Foundation. Family Program Sponsors New Museum Family Programs are made possible, in part, by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts.

Additional generous support provided by the TD Charitable Foundation. Endowment support is provided by the Keith Haring Foundation School and Youth Programs Fund, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Skadden, Arps Education Programs Fund, and the William Randolph Hearst Endowed Fund for Education Programs at the New Museum. Education and public programs are made possible by a generous grant from Goldman Sachs Gives at the recommendation of David B. Heller & Hermine Riegerl Heller.

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Chris Burden Family Guide  

Planning a trip to see "Chris Burden: Extreme Measures" with kids? Pick up a copy of our Family Guide at the front desk, or download this PD...

Chris Burden Family Guide  

Planning a trip to see "Chris Burden: Extreme Measures" with kids? Pick up a copy of our Family Guide at the front desk, or download this PD...