Skip to Content
Today Open today 10–11 members | 11–5 public

Cremaster 3: The Dance of Hiram Abiff

A work made of four chromogenic prints in acrylic frames.

Image actions

  • A work made of four chromogenic prints in acrylic frames.




Matthew Barney
American, born 1967

About this artwork

Matthew Barney is a sculptor who makes photographs, films, books, live performances, and objects. For him, no medium is subsidiary to any other; all are expressions in different forms of the same ideas. Barney is, however, by far best known for his films. The five feature-length films of the Cremaster series comprise a gorgeous, absurdly complex epic. Purposely made out of sequence to discourage attempts at linear analysis and to emphasize the circular quality of the narrative, this densely interconnected project began with Cremaster 4 (1995, filmed on the Isle of Man, followed by Cremaster 1 (1996, filmed in Boise, Idaho), Cremaster 5 (1997, filmed in Budapest, Hungary), and Cremaster 2 (1999, filmed in and around the Great Salt Lake in Utah). The final film Cremaster 3 (2001, filmed mostly in New York City) is the longest and perhaps most crucial portion of the narrative. These four prints, which display characters, settings, and events from the end of the narrative, are not still images from the film. Rather, the photographs were posed separately from the filming and are presented together to connect and underscore particular scenes from the motion picture. These images center on the crown of the Chrysler Building turned into a maypole, and the Architect, Hiram Abiff (played by the artist Richard Serra), participating in a climactic rite that prematurely celebrates the building’s completion. The first and fourth images show workers festooning the crown with ribbons. The second shows Abiff at the center of a “maypole” dance. The third shows the unfinished building protruding into the sky in its quest to be the tallest structure in the city.


Currently Off View


Contemporary Art


Matthew Barney


Cremaster 3: The Dance of Hiram Abiff


United States (Artist's nationality)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Four chromogenic prints in acrylic frames


Panels 1,2,4: 107.6 × 86.4 cm (42 3/8 × 34 in.); Panel 3: 137.2 × 111.8 cm (54 × 44 in.); Installed: 137.2 × 386.1 cm (54 1/16 × 152 1/16 in.); 137.2 × 386.1 cm (54 × 152 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Donna and Howard Stone

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions