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(American, b. 1967)
Gelatin silver print
Framed: 47.6 x 47.6 x 2.5 cm (18 3/4 x 18 3/4 x 1 in.); Paper: 37.5 x 37.5 cm (14 3/4 x 14 3/4 in.)
Gift of Scott Cutler and Sundry Art-Contemporary Fund 2011.12.3
The automobile is a staple of recent American history in terms of both industry and culture-from Henry Ford's revolutionary implementation of the assembly line to recent government bailouts in the wake of the financial crisis. During the late 1950s, Chamberlain emerged with sculptures made of scrap metal, most often from discarded cars, yet he treated this everyday detritus with the reverence reserved for fine art materials. By reconfiguring car parts into sculpture with whimsy and formal rigor, his works evoke the notion of beauty and meaning hiding in the overlooked and discarded. Matthew Barney's most famous body of work is The Cremaster Cycle, an overwhelmingly grand gesamtkunstwerk (a total work of art) featuring videos, sculptural installations, and photographs that interweave mythology, psychosexual narratives, and mass culture. By showing damaged Crown Imperials within the lobby of the iconic Chrysler building in Cremaster 3, Barney evokes the ways in which cultural legacies can either fade in time or remain emblematic.
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