This June Matthew Barney’s long anticipated Guggenheim exhibition opened—at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne. Organized to coincide with the debut of Cremaster 3, the final installment of Barney’s five-film epic, the survey unites the complete cycle of films and the corresponding sculptural work. Contributing editor Daniel Birnbaum looks beyond the scheduling flap to assess the artist’s nine-year effort.

All that the world most needs today is combined in the most seductive way in his art—the three great stimulants of exhausted people: brutality, artificiality, and innocence. . . .

Friedrich Nietzsche, The Case of Wagner (1895)

BAYREUTH CAN WAIT: Matthew Barney’s CREMASTER cycle is a Wagnerian vision for the new millennium. It started, in CREMASTER 4, 1994, with a tap-dancing freak—half glitzy performer, half goat—dressed in white. With great care, the soft hands of

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