Matthew Barney, ‘Investment’, 2016, Whitechapel Gallery
Matthew Barney, ‘Investment’, 2016, Whitechapel Gallery

This work comes in a bespoke frame, designed by Matthew Barney.

Matthew Barney’s edition for the Whitechapel Gallery relates to his recent film River of Fundament (2014). The film transports the myth-laden narrative of Norman Mailer’s novel Ancient Evenings (1983) – itself based on the Egyptian Book of the Dead – into a contemporary American setting. The project encompasses numerous related artworks including, drawings, sculpture and performance.

In the film, the recurring motif of a graduated ascent to power is articulated in the material language of the metals and minerals that take form in sculpture. Base elements — zinc, sulfur, iron, copper — give way to yellow metal alloys — bronze and brass — that emulate, but fail to reproduce, the quality of gold. Barney's edition is printed with graphite ink, a base element that appears throughout the film and it's related artworks

Hidden within the intricate lines of this exquisite print are the outlines of the American Bison, the last of the three animal protagonists in River of Fundament. The work’s title, Investment, describes the stage in the sculptural casting process where the pattern is submerged into the mold material, before being displaced by the casting medium. This print, like Barney’s sculptures from the film, translates motifs from River of Fundament into autonomous works of art, bearing witness to these set-piece performances while recasting their themes of decay, regeneration and alchemical metamorphosis.

Signature: Edition of 20, signed and numbered

Image rights: Copyright Whitechapel Gallery

Publisher: Produced by Matthew Barney and Two Palms Press

About Matthew Barney

Known for large-scale multimedia projects—often made in series over several years—Matthew Barney is among the most ambitious artists of the past two decades. His work is invested with layers of art-historical references, archetypal imagery, and historical re-enactment. His best-known work, The Cremaster Cycle (1994-2002), is an epic story told through five feature-length films. One of the suite’s recurrent themes uses the biological process of sexual maturation as a metaphor for artistic creation and development. Much of the action is structured in a way that is or alludes to choreography. “My interest in dance has to do with the basic drama of an object in space, interaction with gravity, and the potential for the object to fall over or to fail,” he has said. The work was executed in collaboration with dozens of other artists, including Richard Serra and Norman Mailer. He was awarded the Hugo Boss Prize in 1996 and the Europa 2000 Prize at the 1993 Venice Biennale.

American, b. 1967, San Francisco, California, based in New York, New York

Solo Shows

New York, NY, United States,
Matthew Barney: Facility of DECLINE
Astrup Fearnley, 
Oslo, Norway,
Matthew Barney: Bildungsroman
Santa Monica, CA, United States,
WATER CASTINGS: Fourteen Pieces
Pierpont Morgan Library, 
New York, NY, United States,
Subliming Vessel: The Drawings of Matthew Barney
New York, NY, United States,
Matthew Barney: DJED
London, United Kingdom,
Matthew Barney
Brussels, Belgium,
Matthew Barney: Ancient Evenings: Libretto
New York, NY, United States,
Cremaster Cycle
New York, NY, United States,
Matthew Barney

Fair History on Artsy

View Artist's CV