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Matthew Barney Cremaster 5

cm 98 x 74
Matthew Barney began his career in the early 1990s, when he had various exhibitions in the United States, and he quickly established himself on the international art scene. From the outset he embraced a multimedia practice, using drawing, photography, video, and installations to produce works distinguished by an oneiric, fantasy atmosphere inspired by the most disparate cultures. The body is the central subject and element of every narrative, the model of universal consciousness and the root of the personal mythology that characterizes the artist’s life and work. His best-known work is the "Cremaster" film cycle, the epic saga of the “testicular muscle,” which owes its title to the tissue which, during the development of the fetus, determines the sex of the child, ascending in girls and descending in boys. The work, which won the Europa 2000 Prize at the 45th Venice Biennale in 1993, and the Guggenheim Museum’s Hugo Boss Prize in 1996, involved the artist playing various roles. It consists of five episodes, released in accordance with a numerical symmetry revolving around the number “5”. The films appeared in fact in the sequence 4-1-5-2-3, with “5” in the central position, probably suggested by the classic division of Greek tragedies into five acts: "Cremaster 4" (1994), "Cremaster 1" (1995), "Cremaster 5" (1997), "Cremaster 2" (1999), "Cremaster 3" (2002). "Cremaster 5" is a photographic print taken from the fifth episode of the series, set in the Budapest Opera House. It is enclosed by an artist’s frame made from plastic, a material used frequently by Barney for sculptures and installations. The image captures the protagonist Ursula Andress in the part of the Queen of Chains; sitting on a throne dotted with orifices, she sings of her tragic love for the Magician Barney-Houdini. The image, a kind of icon, confirms in photographic terms that the artist’s films are based on his own and the actors’ physical presence and not on successive narrative events, as is borne out by the frequent slow sequences and the almost total absence of dialogue.
On View
G.B. Kvaran (ed.), Matthew Barney: The Cremaster Cycle, exhibition catalogue (Oslo, Astrup Fearnley Museet for Moderne Kunst), Oslo 2003. N. Dusi, C.G. Saba (eds.), Matthew Barney: polimorfismo multimodalità neobarocco, Cinisello Balsamo 2012. H.U. Obrist (ed.), Matthew Barney, Cologne 2012.
Photo Credits
Foto Roberto Galasso
Legal status
Donation by Claudia Gian Ferrari
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