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Lot 138: Matthew Barney (b. 1967)

London Contemporary

by Christie's

October 23, 2005

London, United Kingdom

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Description: Cremaster I: Orchidella
signed and dated 'Matthew Barney 1995' (on the reverse)
laminated c-print in self-lubricating acrylic artist frame
53 5/8 x 43 1/2 in. (136.2 x 110.5cm.)
Executed in 1995, this work is number one from an edition of six plus two artist proofs

Notes: Cremaster 1: Orchidella is a memorable and celebratory still image from Matthew Barney's film Cremaster 1. This opening sequence from his epic and extraordinary five-part Cremaster cycle concentrates on the themes of ascension, joy, elevation and orgasm. Set in Bronco Stadium in Barney's hometown of Boise, Idaho, the film outlines a Busby Berkeley-like dance spectacle incorporating a host of 1930s-attired hostesses and two Goodyear blimps.

The cremaster muscles, from which Barney's series takes its name, are the muscles that control the height of the testicles, a height that varies according to the outside temperature. The themes of ascension and descent run throughout the Cremaster series with the strange, sumptuous, dream-like and fantastical reality of Barney's work conveying a pervasive sense of life on the threshold of a new reality. Cremaster 1 depicts the state of highest elevation, a state of self-enclosed euphoria when the self, like the testicles in a state of maximum elevation and having shrunk back into the body, are narcissitically enclosed within themselves. Metaphorically depicted by the twin Goodyear ships and the Utopian state of celebration on the field below, Cremaster 1 also uses mythology to hint at the hubristic danger of such an isolated and self-enclosed state, employing grapes - the symbols of Bacchus - to warn of how such Dionyisan excess and self-love can lead to the loss of self.

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price plus buyer's premium.

Provenance: Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1997.

Artist or Maker: Matthew Barney (b. 1967)

Literature: Matthew Barney Pace Car for the Hubris Pill, exh. cat., Museum Boymans-Van Beuningen, Rotterdam 1995, no. 14.
A. Taubin, 'Making Tracks', in: The Village Voice, New York, July 1996 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 93).
Matthew Barney-Tony Oursler-Jeff Wall, exh. cat., Sammlung Goetz, Munich 1996 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 44).
The Hugo Boss Prize, exh. cat., Guggenheim Museum, Soho, New York 1996 (another from the edition illustrated).
Sous le manteau, exh. cat., Galerie Thaddeus Ropac, Paris 1997 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 4).
M. Barney, T. Morgan and L. Fisher (eds.), Matthew Barney: Cremaster I, Vienna, 1997 (another from the edition illustrated).
E. Janus (ed.), Veronica's Revenge: Contemporary Perspectives on Photography, Zurich, 1998, (another from the edition illustrated in colour, p. 183).
Veronica's Revenge, exh. cat., Museum für Moderne Kunst, Arken 2000 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 23).
J. Avigkos, F. Bonami, A. Gingeras, T.N. Goodeve, K. Kertess, R. Rugoff and O. Zaya (eds.), The Hugo Boss Prize 2000, Guggenheim Museum, New York 2000 (another from the edition illustrated).
N. Smolik and R. Schumacher (eds.), American Art from the Goetz Collection, Prague 2001 (another from the edition illustrated in colour, p. 23).
D. Aaronson, Photography transformed: The Metropolitan Bank and Trust Collection, New York 2002 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 45).
Matthew Barney: The CREMASTER Cycle, exh. cat., Museum Ludwig, Cologne 2002 (another from the edition illustrated, pp. 153 & 462).

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