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January 19, 2004

{     The Cremaster Cycle (Book)     }    

A stunning book dedicated to the ingeniously complex work of American artist Matthew Barney, this incredibly hefty title holds the best representation you are going to find of Barney's master work of sculpture, installation, photography, and ultimately, film, titled The CREMASTER Series. The CREMASTER series defies both short explanation and complex understanding, asking you rather to simply accept the imagery given to you, without question or resolution. A better way to illustrate the way in which to view this work would be similar to how you would watch any film that ends without resolve, you watch it, and then you walk away. You could spend all week trying to decide what happened, or you can just say "Damn, that was an incredible movie," and move the fuck on. However, with that being said, we come to this book. A seven pound, 546 page block of full-color illustrations, sketches, ramblings, and ideas, which is here to provide you with plenty to go on should you decide that you would like to know what is in fact actually going on in the 5 CREMASTER films, and exactly what the ideas are behind all of the notoriously strange imagery. Imagery consisting of bloody silk scarves stuffed in mouths, goat-faced men in white suits, satyrs, feline women, giants, car wrecks with charred corpses, tapdancing bombshells, shovels of vasoline, blimps, magicians, and other symbols of sexuality and violence in our world, or someone else's. All apparently representing some form of an epic cycle of birth and sexual differentiation that honestly, I have not yet even begun to grasp, but which I have no desire to for fear of ruining my own impressions and my own ideas, which I believe is exactly all that Barney has hoped to create. These films, for now, are all only able to be viewed through gallery showings here and there, or full installations such as the monumental Guggenheim CREMASTER Exhibit. The only exception being that of a companion DVD available for purchase, which is a collection of segments from the full-length 3rd CREMASTER film, interspersed with various bonus footage and chunks of strangeness. All this leads to why this book is such a truly an incredible purchase, although at times pricey or hard to find. It is now the pride of my collection, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

     » Cremaster Cycle book
     » NY Times on Matthew Barney
     » Cremaster 3 DVD


yep, that books pretty neat, especially considering you didn't pay a dime for it, but someone else would have to pay upwards of $600, but there's all this shittalk about the dvd, and i for one think the dvd is awesome, i could watch and listen to those girls tapping their feet over and over and over again and i'd be perfectly content... but that's just me...

Posted by: stace at January 20, 2004 4:16 AM

you misunderstand, there is no shit talk about the dvd as far as i am concerned, i just wish it was the whole thing, and i feel like it was misrepresented a little. but alas, i do love it, that is for sure.

Posted by: shane at January 20, 2004 5:54 AM

The book is incredible, but I'm worried that it sets up a sense of narrative that you can't really expect from the films. I've only seen clips of the films, but from what I understand they don't "tell a story". The book kind of does, and in that way it's probably a lot more accessible. With or without a narrative structure to attatch it to, the images are rich and powerful. Barney mines not only the collective subconcious, but taps into the id of artistic tradition to pull forth images that are simultaneously classical and nouveau. The scope of this project is huge, it makes the 528 pages of the book seem like a Cliff's Notes summary.
Well worth whatever you pay, but I must caution against the pricing.
I found it (of all the places!) at for $35.00.

Posted by: Adam at January 20, 2004 6:40 PM

okay, i was generally with you until the walmart part... i mean, you got the big one, the hardcover one, the one you could kill an larger-sized rodent with, the one in the vinyl sleeve, with the cloth bookmark, that is, yes, way overpriced on Amazon due to it's being OOP for the time being? i mean, i know you wouldn't be wrong, but the only other cremaster book (really) is the 200 or so page paperback, and there's no confusing them..... and you've got the right page-numbering now that i've checked the actual book (note to self: stop using amazon as a reference for product details)..... I know it seems like I'm rambling here, but I just can't get my head around that :)

that has to be the best 'find' i've heard of in a long long long time, i mean, fucking walmart? jeebus.

of course, now that i think about how i got my copy, through a book clearinghouse or something similar, it actually makes sense....

Posted by: Shane at January 20, 2004 6:56 PM

I'm thinking of doing a "Twelve" on THE MOST SCANDALOUS ITEMS I'VE EVER FOUND AT WAL-MART. I think they'd be surprised at what I've found, I know I was. My fave- a Lords of Acid album, "On The Racks" that features a little cartoon dominatrix with her cute little cartoon nipples poking out of her leather bra. Two bondage slave boys are hanging out in the back. I also found the Andrew WK album that Wal-Mart specifically censored due to it's graphically bloody cover art. I snagged a McFarlane action figure there that had a removeable chest plate over her boobs, (I had to paint my own nipples onto it) (I'm kidding!) that was banned from Wal-Mart due to making the 700 club's Top Ten worst toys list for that year. I take way too much pleasure in finding inappropriate items there. "Happiness" on dvd. It makes all the trouble they've gone to in censoring their music and banning "pornographic" magazines like Maxim and Stuff seem like the joke that they really are.

Posted by: Adam at January 20, 2004 8:14 PM

well damn! if it can still be purchased at wal-mart, then we need to stock up and sell that shit, run a matthew barney business, those books do go for upwards of $600 on amazon and ebay, where the hell have we been???

Posted by: stace at January 20, 2004 8:50 PM

Never read it need to put it in more book stores

Posted by: Megan at June 24, 2004 10:26 AM
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