Art: Hallucinatory Acts

Matthew Barney creates films that are hard to look at, hard to understand and hard to resist

Few artists under 40 have the cult cachet of Matthew Barney. Part performance art, part sculpture, part film, his mandarin works are outrageous spectacles of heavy makeup and dreamworld metamorphosis. Barney, 32, has appeared before his camera as a red-haired ram in a morning coat; as a satyr squirming in the backseat of a stretch limousine; as a naked and chained Houdini in Budapest, throwing himself into the Danube while Ursula Andress, as the weeping "Queen of Chain," looks on.

Whatever his bizarre fantasies--and they are indeed bizarre, occasionally silly but always sleekly made--critics, curators and dealers have wasted no time...

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