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Matthew Barney (b. 1967)


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Ben Lewis - Art Safari: Matthew Barney (2005)

Ben Lewis continues his series of programmes looking at a new generation of contemporary international artists.

Matthew Barney makes art on a Hollywood scale with videos, sculptures, photographs and drawings. His Cremaster Cycle - the art world's answer to Star Wars - generated queues at the Guggenheim in New York. At its core are five feature length videos, made over an eight-year period.

Among the extraordinary scenes in Barney's films, a fleet of Chevvies demolish an old saloon car in the foyer of the Chrysler building, Busby Berkeley dancers sketch out the outlines of the human reproductive system in a stadium and fairies try to fit a pink wheel with testicles onto a motorbike on the Isle of Wight.

These surreal, visual story fragments are like modern versions of Renaissance frescoes. Every element carries a specific meaning and they all combine to present a revelation of the meaning of life. They are scenes from a new bible, written by Barney himself, but only the initiated understand the contents of that book. Novice monk, Ben Lewis embarks on a journey to discover the secret inner truths of the Cremaster Cycle.


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