Sometimes it’s impossible not to envy the Swiss. Their delicious cheese, their wine, their public transportation, their aversion to military conflict. Truly ideal. Now there is another reason: For a few days soon, they will be able to enjoy a rare wonder of a work by Chris Burden, 40 Foot Stepped Skyscraper (2011), which Gagosian gallery is presenting for the art fair Artgenève’s outdoor Estate Show. The fair runs January 31 through February 3.
As its title suggests, the Geneva-bound piece stands a formidable 40 feet tall. Made out of stainless-steel reproductions of Erector parts, it’s a companion sculpture of sorts to What My Dad Gave Me, the 65-foot-tall tower that Burden showed at Rockefeller Center in New York as a Public Art Fund project in 2008. (At the time, the artist, who died in 2015 at the age of 69, told Randy Kennedy of the New York Times that he thought he could make one more than 100 feet tall, but he scuttled those plans after engineers started doing stress tests.)
Not to be envied, though, are those involved in assembling the piece. The 65-foot behemoth included around 1 million pieces, according to Gagosian. As Burden told the Times, “It required intense concentration to put together—it’s really easy to make a mistake, and when you do, you have to take apart what you’ve done and start over. It might look like child’s play, but it’s anything but.”
Though the exact number of parts for the 40-footer is not know, it cannot be small. As for the monumental artwork’s price, a representative for the gallery said that was still under discussion.