* 1967 San Francisco
Matthew Barney, occupying the rank of one of the biggest international media artists of our time since his "Cremaster Cycle", was born in San Francisco in 1967.
After he had studied at the prestigious Yale University in New Haven, Matthew Barney made a name for himself as a freelance artist as early as in the late 1980s. His early works, including video works and performances as well as installations often associated with his leitmotifs sport, sexuality and corporality, already show Matthew Barney as an artist with great potential for to disturb the beholder.
The year 1994 marks the launch of Matthew Barney's undisputed masterpiece of his oeuvre so far: In "Cremaster Cycle", which is named after a muscle of the male sex organ, Matthew Barney put five lavishly produced and most enigmatic films in an awkward order: "Cremaster 4" was made in 1994, the year after he produced "Cremaster 1", followed by "Cremaster 5" in 1997 and "Cremaster 2" in 1999. "Cremaster 3" completed the project in 2002. With this opus magnum Matthew Barney revolutionized video art: It is with great opulence and extravagance that Matthew Barney creates an array of confusing and disconcerting symbolic images that reference sexuality and myth, athletics and opera. Alongside Matthew Barney himself, other protagonists are prominent figures from the present and the past. Matthew Barney strives to depict sexual differentiation in the fetal stage with enigmatic ciphers. But the knowledge of this idea is not necessarily required to be caught by the spell of the "Cremaster Cycle": Matthew Barney compares its effect on the viewer with the pleasure of watching an opera in a foreign language.
The surreal is at the heart of Matthew Barney art. This applies not only to films and sculptures, graphics, photos and stills that result from the "Cremaster" project, but to his entire oeuvre. Matthew Barney manages to continue the ideas of art from the 1970s, and on a peculiar level, his work is shoulder to shoulder with the "individual mythologies" by Joseph Beuys.
Matthew Barney celebrated great success at a young age: In 1991 the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art showed a major solo exhibition. In 1995/ 96, the renowned Museum Boymans -van Beuningen in Rotterdam realized a large traveling exhibition; another touring exhibition concentrated on the "Cremaster Cycle" was organized in 2002/03 by the New York Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
The much-honored Matthew Barney, who recently showed works in the exhibition "Drawing Restraint" at the Kunsthalle Vienna (2008), lives and works in New York.