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Matthew Barney "Drawing Restraint 9"

Matthew Barney "Drawing Restraint 9"

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From: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Limited Edition: 35
Exhibition: Matthew Barney: Drawing Restraint
Material: Printed vinyl
Dimensions: 35" x 72" (88cm x 182cm)

Hanging Hardware Included


Artist Matthew Barney figured that if resistance could help athletes strengthen their muscles and improve performance, perhaps there was a parallel for artists. So, he set about creating physical impediments to executing his art, deeming the exercise "Drawing Restraint". An exhibition at SFMOMA followed the course of this exploration, culminating in "Drawing Restraint 9", a film that plays upon these ideas. 35 banners are now available featuring an image of Barney from the film.


Matthew Barney (b. 1967) first explored the concept of "drawing restraint" in 1987. As a former athlete, he considered how the muscles of athletes develop and strengthen when challenged by resistance. Barney imagined that drawing could be similarly restrained physically and thus, perhaps, yield similarly strengthened results.

Whether constricted by bungee cords or propelled by a small trampoline, Barney created installations that required him to physically exert himself against restraining forces in order to reach the surfaces where he created his drawings. After these early explorations in his Drawing Restraint series, he further elaborated on the concept over the years. Drawing Restraint 9 is the culmination of this vision, a two-and-a-half hour film that explores the tensions between often opposing forces. As Barney himself describes the film, he wanted to explore "the relationship between self-imposed resistance and creativity."

There is a storyline of sorts to Drawing Restraint 9, but it is the dreamlike, surreal visuals of Barney that truly draw viewers in. The "plot" involves two western visitors to a Japanese whaling ship (played by Barney himself and his partner, Bjork, who composed the film's soundtrack). A large sculpture is formed on the deck of the ship, made of petroleum jelly that cools as the ship approaches Antarctica. The two guests take part in an elaborate Japanese tea ceremony which is interrupted when molten petroleum jelly fills their room. At this point, they take out whaling knives and start to slice each other up, finding that below their limbs they have the early makings of whale parts. The film ends with two whales swimming in the ocean behind the ship.

The image on these banners is a production photograph of Barney in the process of his transformation. On his partially shaven head are the beginnings of tiny horn-like protrusions; on the back of his neck, strange markings that will turn into a blowhole; and on his forehead small, white, furry growths . The image is framed by a border of white and a thin, black, decorative line. The other side of the banner is white with red-orange letters that read "Matthew Barney", the dates of the exhibition "6.23 - 9.17" in grey, and the museum's "SFMOMA" logo printed in black.


These banners were displayed around San Francisco to promote The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's exhibition Matthew Barney: Drawing Restraint from June 23 through September 17, 2006. SFMOMA was the only US venue for this exhibition.

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