VIDEO: Matthew Barney by Ben Lewis - Part 1 - FAD Magazine

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VIDEO: Matthew Barney by Ben Lewis – Part 1

In 2003, when I made this documentary, Matthew Barney had just completed the Cremaster Cycle (1994-2002), the Sistine Chapel of our times. Perhaps, five hundred years from now, the Cremaster will not be considered one of the masterpieces of European civilisation, but in other ways Barney’s Magnum Opus – five films whose length varies between 40 minute and 3 hours – is art on the scale of Michelangelo’s frescoes – in its visual richness, artistic innovation, allegorical and symbolic strategies, spiritual meanings, and size.

The Cremaster is not only a set of films, it is a Gesamtkunstwerk of drawings, sculptures and photographs, using a diverse array of materials from pencil to Vaseline, and an equally diverse array of styles, from the abstract doodle to costume drama. In 2003 an exhibition of these works filled the Guggenheim in New York.

Born in 1967, Barney grew up in Idaho, and studied at Yale. There he excelled as a sportsman and enrolled in sculpture classes. He put the two together, and began producing a series of works from 1987 onwards, which enlarged the physical attributes of sport and biological processes into metaphors for artist creation. Taking as a model, the way muscles are built up in sport by encountering resistance (being strained and then healing stronger), Barney began trying to draw while encountering various ‘restraints’. In one early performance, he scaled the walls of a gallery, using rock-climbing equipment as if he was scaling a mountain. He made small drawings suspended awkwardly above the floor and smeared himself in the sports and body medication, Vaseline.

“You can see the entire Art Safari Matthew Barney Feature on Art Safari Series 1’DVD which you can buy here:

You can read the rest of this essay and watch 2nd part of the video here: .



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