Matthew Barney at MOCA vs. Bjork at MoMA

Bjork's infamous swan dress
(Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images)

It’s a tale of two avant-garde creative personalities -- and former lovers, to boot -- with museum exhibitions on rival coasts.

The planned Matthew Barney exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles is set to open Sept. 13, organizers have announced. The show will be titled “River of Fundament,” the same name as the artist’s latest cinematic epic that will have its local debut at the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA on April 25.

“River,” which will run at MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary through January, will feature 14 large-scale sculptures as well as drawings, photographs and vitrines that were inspired by or made in conjunction with the film. In addition, the museum said that the exhibition will include new works made since the film’s premiere.


Meanwhile, Björk, who is Barney’s former romantic partner, recently opened her own exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The eponymous show, running through June 7, features sound installations, music videos, instruments and costumes, including the infamous swan dress that the Icleandic pop star once wore to the Academy Awards ceremony.

As part of the show, MoMA commissioned a new sound and video installation for the single “Black Lake” from Björk’s new album “Vulnicura.” The single is said to be inspired by Björk’s painful breakup with Barney, with whom she had a 13-year relationship.

“Björk” at MoMA has received some scathing reviews since it opened. Some of the harshest words came from critic Jerry Saltz, who described the exhibition in New York magazine as “a discombobulated mess.” The New York Times reviewer called it “a scant, cramped overview” of the singer’s career.

The romantic break-up of Barney and Björk has been the subject of continued speculation and blogging in certain rarefied New York cultural circles. A former high school athlete and J. Crew model, Barney made his mark with avant-garde creations such as his “Drawing Restraint” series, as well as performance and cinematic art.

His upcoming MOCA show is being organized by the Haus der Kunst, Munich, in collaboration with the Museum of New and Old Art in Tasmania, Australia. It is curated by Okwui Enwezor.

For those who can’t get enough of the artist, Barney’s multipart cinematic behemoth “The Cremaster Cycle” will screen at the Hammer Museum from April 21 to 24.


Twitter: @DavidNgLAT