Clear the runway! Chris Burden Skyscraper lands at Frieze Los Angeles


Chris Burden had a habit of building sculptures so large that for practical and legal purposes they count as architecture, triggering involvement from local zoning officials. This time it was the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) that had to grant permission for his 40 Foot Stepped Skyscraper (2011)—made of some 250,000 stainless-steel Erector Set-style pieces—now installed at the Santa Monica Airport as part of Frieze Los Angeles‘s Projects programme.

“At some point we thought we’d have to put a blinking light on top of it, which I thought would be amazing,” says Gagosian director Sarah Watson, who worked with the artist’s estate on the project. But even without the light, “it becomes a beacon”, she says, because of its placement near the runway.

The skyscraper, which was only shown once before, in Geneva in 2019, is for sale, price on request. Fairgoers with King Kong aspirations take note: the steps built into the ziggurat-like structure are not meant to be used.

Watch a time-lapse video of 40 Foot Stepped Skyscraper‘s assembly at Frieze Los Angeles:


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