The Cloud Club


Matthew Barney ( American, 1967 )

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General Description

The Cloud Club resembles a nightclub piano in the Cloud club bar on the 66th floor of the Chrysler building in New York City, as seen in Barney's film Cremaster 3. The small stool may evoke childhood memories associated with piano recitals, that is, the act of performing in front of the world for the first time. Faced with the blank slate barrier of childhood, how does one break through to discover, on the other side, an adult world full of peril, promise, and beauty? The piano is tilted, unbalanced by mounds of potatoes, themselves potent yet tragic symbols of Ireland (a reference to Barney's heritage), of Idaho (where he was raised), and of the comfort and danger associated with the earth. Beautifully carved and elegantly designed forms are embedded in the piano's cover. Made of precious and rare materials, they include a stylized representation of the Chrysler building and several symbols associated with Masonic secrets.

Excerpt from

Anna Katherine Brodbeck, ed., TWO X TWO X TWENTY: Two Decades Supporting Contemporary Art at the Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art), 2018, 50.

Fun Facts

  • Unlike many works produced by Barney,The Cloud Club was never used as a prop in one of his films.

Web Resources

  • Guggenheim
    Read more about the Cremaster series.