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3 - Matthew Barney, Fondation Cartier 11

Matthew Barney Returns to Paris with “SECONDARY” at the Fondation Cartier 

Juliette Lecorne, the curator of the latest show by Matthew Barney at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, shares details with Whitewall about the anticipated exhibition on view from June 8–September 8.

Thirty years ago, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain presented Matthew Barney’s first exhibition in Europe. The foundation co-produced the American artist’s first feature-length film, CREMASTER 4 (1994), and showed it in dialogue with photographs, drawings, and sculptures inspired by the video. After the exhibition, the film became a fixture in Barney’s creative practice, beginning “The CREMASTER Cycle” (1994-2002)—a five-film series spanning eight years. 

7 - Matthew Barney, Fondation Cartier 4 Matthew Barney, “CREMASTER 1,” 1995, production still, © 1995 Matthew Barney, photo by Michael James O’Brien, courtesy of Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels.

Matthew Barney at the Fondation Cartier

Barney returns to the Fondation Cartier this summer (June 8–September 8) with “SECONDARY,” a solo exhibition revealing the New York-based artist’s latest video installation of the same name. Filmed at Barney’s sculpture studio in Long Island City where it was shown for the first time in the Spring of 2023, the five-channel video explores American football—a sport the artist grew up playing. Over one hour, 11 performers, including the artist, abstract the actions occurring on a football field. In particular, it revolves around a sports accident that happened on August 12, 1978, when a tackle by Jack Tatum left Darryl Stingley paralyzed. 

2 - Matthew Barney, Fondation Cartier 8 Matthew Barney, “SECONDARY,” 2023, five-channel 4K color video installation with immersive sound, running time: 60 minutes, © Matthew Barney, installation photo by Dario Lasagni, courtesy of the artist, Gladstone Gallery, Sadie Coles HQ, Regen Projects, and Galerie Max Hetzler.

SECONDARY complements well the glass building of the Jean Nouvel-designed Foundation, which sits on a garden that gives a stadium field-like atmosphere. Demonstrating the representation of violence and celebration through sports and society, it investigates how a game propelled by physical exertion develops into an impactful cultural moment. 

Artistic Ties to “SECONDARY”

“SECONDARY is both introspective and retrospective for Barney,” said the show’s curator, Juliette Lecorne, who traces football’s impact on Barney from his young days in the field to playing for Yale University. “With this new film, Barney is returning to a very personal souvenir of [Stingley’s] accident, as he was an eleven-year-old rookie quarterback at that time. Violence is an inherent part of American football and Barney has experienced it from an early age as an athlete.” 

1 - Juliette Lecorne, photo by Studio Lenoir, Fondation Cartier Juliette Lecorne, portrait by Studio Lenoir, courtesy of the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain.

Juliette Lecorne‘s Study of Matthew Barney Works

Lecorne has followed Barney’s work for over 20 years, first seeing his retrospective on “The CREMASTER Cycle” at Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 2002. “Later on, as a student, I had the opportunity to study his work in greater depth and to associate these memories with a genuine artistic process. ‘The Cremaster Cycle’ remains a total artwork of its own, unforgettable for its aesthetics and its strangeness. The power of the images Matthew Barney created has left a profound mark on me and a generation of artists and creative people of various fields,” she said.

10 - Matthew Barney, Fondation Cartier 2 Matthew Barney, “CREMASTER 3,” 2002, production still, © 2002 Matthew Barney, photo by Chris Winget, courtesy of Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels.

Drawing Restraint Explores Endurance

Barney’s work explores the limits and possibilities of the body through the notions of effort, strength, and endurance. At the Fondation Cartier, his latest video series will occupy the full space, including an installation of the artist’s earliest Drawing Restraint videos which laid the groundwork for SECONDARY, and a new film created for the exhibition, Drawing Restraint 27. It’s a project Barney began in 1987 while in art school, which speaks to his overall creative practice. “Each action revolves around issues of exertion, failure, gravity, process, and experimentation with the body and its limits. As the series progressed, Barney became increasingly interested in the psychological conditions of restraint,” said Lecorne.

11 - Matthew Barney, Fondation Cartier 7 Matthew Barney, “DRAWING RESTRAINT 2,” 1988, black-and-white video with no sound, (5 min, 01 sec), photo by Michael Rees, © Matthew Barney, courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery, courtesy Laurenz Foundation, Schaulager, Basel; and The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Richard S. Zeisler Bequest and The Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Fund (both by exchange).

“Each Drawing Restraint reflects Barney’s training as a young football player and is based on his resolute interest in the physicality and rigor of athletics. Hypertrophy—the phenomena of muscles strengthening when they encounter resistance—became a fundamental conceptual framework early on in Barney’s artistic practice,” said Lecorne. “He saw that resistance as a catalyst for muscle growth could also be a metaphor for creativity.”

10 - Matthew Barney, Fondation Cartier 2 Matthew Barney, “Power Rack with Landmine and Restraint,” 2024, ceramic 78” H x 105” L x 118” W (198 cm H x 266 cm L x 300 cm W), (MB793), photo by David Regen, © Matthew Barney, courtesy of the artist, Gladstone Gallery, Sadie Coles HQ, Regen Projects, and Galerie Max Hetzler, with support from Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain.

A New Matthew Barney Sculpture

Also on view is a new ceramic sculpture mimicking a power rack—an item common in weightlifting. The concept of the work and its material draws parallels to feelings of familiarity, nostalgia, and vulnerability.

“With SECONDARY, Matthew Barney returns to the figurative motifs that set the course for his sculpture in the early 1990s: everyday athletic equipment. Originally cast from petroleum jelly and plastics, Barney’s new work focuses on ceramic, a material that, like bodies, is vulnerable and memory-laden,” Lecorne said. “In Power Rack with Landmine and Restraint, the artist presents a structure made entirely of cast ceramic. Its absence of figure evokes the aftermath of a high-pressure training session, with only the discarded, soiled equipment left behind.”

4 - Matthew Barney, Fondation Cartier 10 Matthew Barney, “SECONDARY,” 2023, © Matthew Barney, production still byJulieta Cervantes, courtesy of the artist, Gladstone Gallery, Sadie Coles HQ, Regen Projects, and Galerie Max Hetzler.

Filming Inside the Fondation Cartier

For the show, a new video in the series was also performed and filmed in the Fondation Cartier during the mounting of the exhibition, where it will be shown as a site-specific installation. “While exploring the mirror between Drawing Restraint and SECONDARY, Matthew felt it would be interesting to make a Drawing Restraint performance within the exhibition spaces,” said Lecorne. The video documents a performance by Raphael Xavier in the role of Oakland Raiders defensive back Jack Tatum—a reprisal of the character in SECONDARY

5 - Matthew Barney, Fondation Cartier 3 Matthew Barney, “SECONDARY,” 2023, © Matthew Barney, production still by Jonathan O’Sullivan, courtesy of the artist, Gladstone Gallery, Sadie Coles HQ, Regen Projects, and Galerie Max Hetzler.

The Return of SECONDARY Magazine

In celebration of “SECONDARY,” 25,000 printed copies of the artist’s limited-edition SECONDARY magazine, created in collaboration with Pacific and updated with the Fondation Cartier, will be available. Tracing the film he created in his New York studio, the magazine will also include testimonials from its performers, historical profiles of each player, and photos of the Drawing Restraint 27 performance shot within Fondation Cartier.

6 - Matthew Barney, Fondation Cartier 5 Matthew Barney, “CREMASTER 1,” 1995, production still, ©1995 Matthew Barney, photo by Michael James O’Brien, courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels.

Additional Programming in Paris

A calendar of special “Nomadic Nights” programming to accompany the show, including film screenings and performances. Presenting unique works by some of the performers in SECONDARY, the programming includes debut work, featuring musical compositions and various choreographic works spanning postmodern movement, contact improv, Krump, and breakdance techniques. For those interested in viewing Barney’s “The CREMASTER Cycle,” the Fondation Cartier will also present a marathon screening on June 29 and 30 at Christine Cinéma Club cinema—an anticipated return since its last showing in Paris in 2002. 

8 - Matthew Barney, Fondation Cartier 1 Matthew Barney, “CREMASTER 2,” 1999, production still © 1999 Matthew Barney, photo by Chris Winget, courtesy of Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels.

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