Please update your browser

You're using a version of Internet Explorer that isn't supported by Questia.
To get a better experience, go to one of these sites and get the latest
version of your preferred browser:

Steve McQueen

By Frankel, David | Artforum International, November 1997 | Go to article overview

Steve McQueen


Frankel, David, Artforum International


I liked Steve McQueen's first New York show, and then I found that he has an exhibition history rather fatter than either the thin number of years he has been working or the slender body of art he has made. Since graduating from Goldsmiths' College, London, in 1993, McQueen has exhibited in public institutions in his hometown (twice), Amsterdam, Chicago, Eindhoven, Frankfurt, Johannesburg (the city's biennial), Paris (also twice), and - last but not least - Kassel (Documenta). On the 28th of this month his work goes on view at New York's Museum of Modern Art (where, truth in advertising, this writer works in a noncuratorial position). There is a reaction in such cases of wanting to prove the young emperor's clotheslessness, but this is as unfair as, arguably, is the pressure of being taken extremely seriously on the basis of a small oeuvre. Similarly, while one wonders what in the market, the media, and the public exhibition system would explain which straight-out-of-art-school types will get to take shortcuts to international visibility, the topic here is the artist's work.

In this respect McQueen stands somewhat apart from his London context, at least as it appears from New York. The English art world is famously glamorous of late, and the present generation is distinct enough to have won an argot nickname: the initials YBA, for "Young British Artist." "Very YBA," say my London friends, meaning partly a style and milieu of social life but also an ethos of work, which, speaking generally, might have a splashy, in-your-face visual presence; or might so embrace popular culture as to be virtually another form of it; or might assert the autobiographical details of its own making. McQueen's films are austere by contrast. Silent and black and white, they describe no clear story or life situation, as Georgina Starr's works may; their erotic politics are usually more insinuating than confrontational, unlike those of Sarah Lucas; although McQueen may appear in his films, they are not obviously "about" him, as Starr and Tracey Emin produce art apparently "about" themselves; nor does he rephrase or parody such media as advertising, in the manner, at times, of Damien Hirst. McQueen does, I think, care about popular culture, in the form of movies, but he processes that interest so that its traces become difficult to detect.

According to critic Jon Thompson, for example, Bear, 1993, addresses a "bald cinematic cliche," the "well-worn fight sequence of the popular cinema." Narrative and visual contexts, however, are absent: this nude wrestling match has neither origin nor outcome, and happens in seeming darkness. What remains is the play of the men's feelings - there is smiling and laughter, but also challenge, caution, tension, alarm, and a certain erotic buzz as the sparring goes through its phases. Equally important is the camera's tight dance with the men's bodies, so that we see light on sweat and the texture of skin observed at such proximity that it looks like the surface of the moon.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Steve McQueen
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.