Celebrated as a sculptor and performance artist, Barney has caused quite a stir in the contemporary art world with his Cremaster films. The cycle of films is a fevered, sometimes delirious, and often beautiful exploration of the competing forces of artistic creation and destruction.
“A lot of my work has to do with not allowing my characters to have an ego in a way that the stomach doesn’t have an ego when it’s wanting to throw up. It just does it.” Original Cremaster Cycle exhibition poster
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Cremaster Cycle Net.Matthew Barney’s epic Cremaster cycle (1994–2002) is a self-enclosed aesthetic system consisting of five feature-length films that explore processes of creation. The cycle unfolds not just cinematically, but also through the photographs, drawings, sculptures, and installations the artist produces in conjunction with each episode. Its conceptual departure point is the male cremaster muscle, which controls testicular contractions in response to external stimuli…
Over the past two decades, Matthew Barney has created a distinctive universe using a multitude of media, from sculpture and photography to drawing and film. Informed by his careful study of recent art history, the human body, and biological development, his work reveals a keen interest in process and the evolution of form…sfmoma
Barney is journeying alone in his efforts to build a parallel mythological world that probes deeply the dilemmas and traumas that shape our time. Much has been made of the idea that Barney has built a self-contained, enclosed system and iconography. Cremaster, as a sculptural project, has its own codes, signs and forms, almost its own genetic imprint. Yet the building blocks of its ‘DNA’ are easier to recognise than to decode. It feeds on itself, sometimes almost devours itself. But, like every system, every organism, it needs nourishment from without. ..