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Matthew Barney [Paperback]

Nancy Spector , Neville Wakefield
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 27 2002
Filled with hundreds of Matthew Barney's fantastical images, this comprehensive volume, which accompanies a major exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, surveys the popular artist's CREMASTER cycle—an epic five-part film project that uses the biological model of sexual difference as its conceptual departure point.

Three essays by Barney experts articulate the series' diverse themes and explore the artist's innovative aesthetic vocabulary; interviews with key collaborators— composer, costume designer, make-up artist, technicians, and actors—reveal his working process. In addition to stills from the five films—including the final episode, CREMASTER 3, which will premiere at the exhibition—the book features related sculptures, photographs, drawings, and storyboards. For anyone intrigued by this Wagner of contemporary art, this is an atlas to his enticingly hypnotic worlds.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An Important Work Aug. 23 2003
I travelled from San Diego to New York to see all five of the films in sequence, and picked up this book while there. The Cremaster cycle is pregnant with ambiguous meaning (the point of art, nowadays) so this book is, in my opinion, the only way to gain a comprehensive perspective on the work. Other useful features of this book is an illustrated essay of Barney's work, a "Cremaster Glossary"(less useful) and an essay on the meaning of Cremaster. I won't discuss the substance of that essay, but it is useful, if only to orient yourself to the imagery.
Perhaps because I got to see all five films in sequence and then had an opportunity to review the book afterwards, I don't think Cremaster is all that difficult to understand. Part of the problem is that he is engaged in fomenting ambiguity. I do believe that is possible to extract signifgant meanings from the Cremaster cycle. Might be a good idea to buy this in paperback if you actually want to paw through it with your dirty mitts.
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The challenges of SEEING (much less remembering and understanding) Barney's Cremaster films are not insignificant:
1) They show very rarely (and rarely together or in sequence).
2) Some of them (like Cremaster 3) are so LOOONG even diehard fans can nod off to sleep.
3) Their linear, sequential nature means you can't jump back and forth between them to make connections.
4) Unless you're a Barney junkie, you didn't even SEE a couple of the films yet.
5) Unless you go to the 2002 museum exhibition or you're on dealer Barbara Gladstone's speed dial, you've never seen more than one of Barney's sculptures at a time.
So unless you have a photographic memory (and dedicate it to the service of Matthew Barney), it's extraordinarily difficult to build more than impressionistic understanding of this body of work.
This book solves that challenge. It's comprehensive documentation of ALL the films, their production, inspiration and symbolic elements make in an indispensable tool, a Rosetta stone, maybe, for gaining an overall perspective of Barney's vision.
Whether the artist intends it or not, for better or worse, this book will become THE MAIN SOURCE through which people will encounter his work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A new canon is among us Sept. 7 2002
By Steve
This book is so much more than a catalogue of Cremaster cycle. This is a new beauty that paves the way for revolutionary standards of art. Holding Barney beside the majority of contemporary art, it suddenly becomes harder to recognize the viability of art (and art education) as we know it today. Doubtlessly, his work is difficult; if you are new to him, don't expect his work to sit easily with you. But those with patience and an open mind will discover that Barney's universe gives a prodigiously eloquent visual expression to the ideas of the great thinkers of the late century. This far-reaching vision of Barney and his artistic and philosophical predecessors conceives of humanity in a way so radically alien from previous eras that it singlehandedly clears away centuries of accumulated smoke. Certainly these themes are present in daily life and hence in the work of countless artists, but in no other artist's work is it more cohesively presented than here. Quite simply, it is a bible for earthly living in the 21st century. Nevertheless, a caveat to disciples, artistic or not: beware fetishizing Barney's idiosyncratic imagery lest the ideas of potentiality and transformation so beautifully captured therein be rendered hollow and static.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Top Notch(s) Aug. 30 2002
A truly wonderful book for anyone minorly interested in mr. barney's work. I could not have asked for a better printed compilation of these films. The price is extremely reasonable, and for anyone that has attempted to see the films/books of the first 3 films made, it is a treat to see these rarely seen images. cremasters 1,4,and 5 are out of print and the films are only available to art collectors in limited edition laserdiscs, or to view upon there original release. The essays are comprehensive of barney's earlier work and the cremaster cycle, and offer explanations and information that links together this mysterious series of films. Also included in this edition are many interesting interviews with collaborators/crew of the 5 films. the book is divided as follows: two very nice essays on barney's work and the films, each film is then given it's own section which are divided by arc-like cut outs, much like a dictionary or bible, but larger. there is a glossary of terms and concepts that the films deal with, and then the interviews. All of the images are printed very well and the over all presentation (white cloth book mark included) is top notch. this allows for the average joe with not much dough to have access to these films.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Cremasterful! March 17 2003
The best single source for information [a wonderful "glossary" of influences], explication [Guggenheim curator Nancy Spector's superb essay is adroitly and intelligently done, referencing both high- and low-brow stuff] and stimulation [hundreds of production stills, drawings, sculpture, etc.] regarding Matthew Barney's lovely and unsettling five-film CREMASTER cycle. A massive volume personally supervised by the inventive, fearless, visionary artist; one of the most gorgeous art catalogues I've ever seen. It's better, and far more comprehensive, than the individual companion books released with the films, and it serves as a treasured memento of the exhibition in honor of the cycle's completion. No wonder this guy is the rock star of fine art. A visual -- and verbal -- feast.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars a question, really
Why would anyone pay hundreds for the H/C version, if a shiny, new paperback is only $40? Please enlighten this fool? Thanks!
Published on Feb. 8 2004 by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful vibrant images
This book is full of beautiful vibrant images that seem to come alive in a hypnotic state with each page you turn. I was simply enthralled while viewing this book. Read more
Published on Aug. 11 2003 by thrashramy
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Tome about Artistic Creation
People complain about Matthew Barney - "He is a gratuitous, self indulged artist"...well maybe, but as an individual in the art and design community I can say... Read more
Published on Aug. 10 2003 by Nathan Manfred
5.0 out of 5 stars The human tragedy - unity and the endless cycle
I suggest you experience Barney's work and then purchase this book. Barney's universe is no Finnegan's Wake - but the biological subtext of pure potential and secret societies are... Read more
Published on June 1 2003 by Tiger Cosmos
5.0 out of 5 stars Cremasterbation
Tapioca, vaseline, muscle bound women, dead horses, giants, serial killers, and Harry Houdini. Welcome to the universe of the Cremaster Cycle. Don't try to decode it all. Read more
Published on June 1 2003 by Jason A. Tselentis
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fresh and Violent Happiness for Your Nerve System
Tatayana can leave me out of being victimized by anything to do with Art in the 21st Century... Matthew Barney is about the violence of creation, change, and (r)evolution. Read more
Published on May 22 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars some like it, some don't - that's art
i read the two negative posts about the entire cremaster cycle book/exhibit. i have to say i do not think is anti-women in any way. some people get it, some people don't. Read more
Published on April 12 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid book
A fine book with a lot of beautiful pictures.
The quality of this book is extremly high. Nice and thick pages.
5 stars out of 5, no doubt!
Published on Aug. 22 2002
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