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Matthew Barney

At the 2003 Sundance Film Festival I saw Cremaster 3, the final film in Matthew Barney’s five movie opus, The Cremaster Cycle. The film was soon to be part of a grand exhibition of the full Cycle at the Guggenheim in New York. I reviewed the movies and the associated sculptures, paintings and memorabilia for The Economist early in the spring of that year. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

A CRITIC once dismissed Matthew Barney as having “no composition, no structure, no emotion, not even any irony to speak of”. So why has the Guggenheim Museum dedicated its space to him for the next three months?

The answer lies with the artist’s daredevil humour and intractable openness which seem to respond particularly eloquently to our rule-bound, post-ironic times. He certainly speaks to the young, who have been flocking to this show ever since it opened last year at the Ludwig Museum in Cologne before travelling on, with similar youthful acclaim, to Paris and now New York.

Though he prefers to call himself a sculptor, Mr Barney is best known for his performance films. A former high-school football star and Yale University biology student, he suddenly came to the notice of the New York art world in 1991 with a filmed performance piece called “Blind Perineum”. Using titanium ice screws and a climbing harness, Mr Barney clambered naked across the gallery’s walls and ceilings and into a walk-in fridge that held nothing but a bench press made of cast petroleum jelly.

For the full article click here.

March 8th 2003 Issue

Still from Cremaster 1

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