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Barney, Matthew. MATTHEW BARNEY: CREMASTER 2. Minneapolis, MN: Walker Art Center, 1999. Softcover. First Edition/First Printing. Unpaginated. Fine.

Artist Book. Now considered a contemporary classic. The first and only edition. The fourth installment in the "Cremaster" Cycle. Except for "Cremaster 1", all of the other installments are presented in mixed-up sequence. A brilliant production by Matthew Barney: Oversize-volume format in oblong shape. Pictorial softcovers, as issued. Art by Matthew Barney. There is no text. Aquamarine translucent plastic slipcase. Printed on thick coated stock paper in the United States to the highest standards. Without DJ, as issued. Presents a climactic moment in the "Cremaster" Cycle" and the latter's most erotic installment. The kinship between Utah murderer Gary Gilmore and escape artist Harry Houdini frames tantalizing, dreamy riffs on the desolation of the American West and the clash between machismo and female domination. Utah is called the "Beehive State", which Barney seizes on visually with swarming bees, dripping honey, interiors suggesting honeycomb, and the Queen Bee gown worn by Gilmore's grandmother during a sexual encounter with Houdini. Barney's explicit tableaux of sexual intercourse show the male organ (his own) to be merely an instrument for female fecundity. Part of the "Cremaster" Cycle's originality lies in the fact that it exists in virtually all conceivable media. The five films, the five Artist Books, performance art, individual exhibitions, sculptures, photographs, drawings, and storyboards have all been shown to the public and are all considered by Barney to be integral to his unique project. His Wagnerian, "all-over-the-place" epic scale and staggering ambition have baffled just about everyone: Film critics cannot comprehend the films and collectors think the Artist Books either supersede or have been superseded by the Exhibition Catalog. All of this misses Barney's point, which is that "Cremaster" exists in myriad forms, the only way he feels he could do justice to his subject. "Cremaster" is nothing less than his vision of the creative process, the destruction of nature, and the cycle of life through the "lens" of American culture. Strange, complex, and visually exhilarating, "Cremaster" appropriates everything hungrily, promiscuously, and triumphantly: History, autobiography (Barney appears in the works, unabashedly naked in many of them), popular culture, Freud, Mormon lore, rock music, classic films, arts and artists throughout Western history, and ancient mythology to create a dreamily hypnotic landscape that "reflects" on gender, sex, ritual, power, violence, seduction, beauty, creation, destruction, renewal. As is now well-known, the cremaster is the muscle that raises or lowers the testicles, depending on temperature, fear or external stimulation. "The most important American artist of his generation" (The New York Times). A "must-have" title for Matthew Barney collectors. This title has been out-of-print for a very long time and is now highly collectible. This is one of extremely few copies still available online and is in especially fine condition: Clean, crisp, and bright, a beauty. A rare copy thus. One of the most brilliant living American artists. A fine collectible copy. (SEE ALSO OTHER MATTHEW BARNEY TITLES IN OUR CATALOG). ISBN 0935640649. $400.00

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