Matthew Barney (American, b.1967) creates unique and compelling works that incorporate video, performance, sculpture, and installation art. Barney was born in San Francisco and moved to Idaho with his father when he was young, playing football in the Midwestern state and visiting art museums with his mother in New York, two experiences that would come to inform his art. He attended Yale University, and after graduation in 1991, Barney began creating works addressing themes of athleticism, sexuality, and the capacities of the human body. He continued to explore these issues in his Cremaster series in 1994, by which point he had already started making a name for himself in the Contemporary Art world. In the Cremaster series, five films were displayed out of sequence, numbering from one to five, with the final film released in 2002. Throughout these films, Barney appears dressed as various personages, ranging from mythical creatures to Harry Houdini, in visually opulent, stunning, and surreal scenes. In these works, Barney relates theories about sex, the human body, and the athletic ideal, and intertwines them with biology, historical narratives, symbol, and myth. He has also created sculptures, drawings, photographs, and other works associated with his Cremaster series.
Barney has received several awards, including the Europa Prize at the Venice Biennale, the first Hugo Boss Prize from the Guggenheim Museum, and the Skowhegan Medal for Combined Media. He has held solo exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.
Barney currently lives and works in New York.