There are two stellar reviews of "Chris Burden: Extreme Measures", the artist's retrospective exhibition at the New Museum. The first is Chloe Wyma's "White Man's Burden"  which ran in The New Inquiry. Wyma takes aim at the "classical" modernist machismo that the New Museum prizes.


The monolithic bombast of works like Big Wheel and One Ton Truck have less to do with “omnipresent fixation with the boundaries of power” than with a current vogue for neo-baroque art spectacles that bulldoze over critical engagement, producing the ideal viewer as slack-jawed oglers. Human scale is sacrificed to a cult of gigantism and spatial sublimity. Taking pains to escape the myth of Burden as an overgrown enfant terrible, “Extreme Measures” produces secondary, less intriguing ones: Burden as technocrat, apostate, and authorial rubber stamp on supersized contemporary art baubles.


The next is a review by artist and writer Tom McGlynn in Big Red & Shiny , which picks up on Burden as a lapsed symbol of our zeitgeist:


The evolution of Burden’s career somewhat represents the course of an American and world culture once preoccupied with heavy metal materiality but now distracted by celebratory representations of the spectacular gesture. Burden’s artistic response to this changed world is one of reticent acceptance. His most recent work never transcends its representational dogma (war is bad, man as good builder, man as politically powerless), and that dogma, not ever strident in Burden, fails to ground the work’s phenomenal lack of presence. At a time when the contemporary art world seems to be swinging between the poles of Richard Serra’s feats of scale and weight and Marina Abramovic’s exploits of physical endurance, there can be little fascination for Burden’s sling-shot approach to his former status as a risk-taking giant.


AuthorMike Pepi