Steve McQueen interview
What got you started? Being able to draw from a very early age. When I was four or five, a drawing I did of my family was chosen for a printed banner outside Shepherd’s Bush library in London. I remember driving past it with my mum and dad, feeling proud.
Steve McQueen studied art and design at Chelsea College of Art and Design and then fine art at Goldsmiths College where he first became interested in film. He left Goldsmiths in 1993 and then studied briefly at the Tisch School in New York City. He found the approach there not experimental enough for him, however, complaining that “they wouldn’t let you throw the camera up in the air”.
McQueen’s films, which are typically projected onto one or more walls of an enclosed space in an art gallery, are often in black and white and minimalist. He has cited the influence of the nouvelle vague and the films of Andy Warhol. He often appears in the films himself.
His first major work was Bear (1993), in which two naked men (one of them McQueen) exchange a series of glances which might be taken to be flirtatious or threatening. One of his best known works, Deadpan (1997), is a restaging of a Buster Keaton stunt in which a house collapses around McQueen who is left unscathed because he is standing where there is a missing window…
Reminiscent of a typcial Buster Keaton mise-en-scène, McQueen stages a deadpan humourous scene, where the house front collapses but leaves the figure mysteriously intact by leaving the door open.
Steve McQueen CBE trained at the Chelsea School of Art, London; Goldsmith College, London; and at the Tisch School of Arts, New York University. He was the recipient of an ICA Futures Award in (1996), a DAAD Artist in Residence Grant in Berlin (1999), and the Turner Prize, Tate Gallery, London (1999). He participated in Documenta X (1997) and XI (2002). He has had a number of international solo exhibitions, including a show at the Art Institute in Chicago (2002) and a show the following year at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris…
Steve McQueen, who won Britain’s esteemed contemporary art honor, the Turner Prize, in 1999, recently directed his first feature. Hunger is a searing prison drama that won the Caméra d’or at Cannes last year and is being released in the United States this month. Even before the success of this venture, the 39-year-old London native has long been anacclaimed video artist known for not skirting around serious topics: Over the course of his career he’s addressed the legacy of colonialism, fallen soldiers in Iraq, and mining in the Congo. But his videos are so formally elegant and well-crafted and have such dramatic soundtracks that they’re less like political statements than they are honest assessments of the complexities of our world. McQueen now lives in Amsterdam, and his next project is representing Britain at this summer’s Venice Biennale…