Steve McQueen. Charlotte, 2004. Photo courtesy of the artist; Marian Goodman Gallery, New York /Paris; and Thomas Dane Gallery, London.
CHICAGO - Though he gained mainstream attention for featuring an oft-naked Michael Fassbender as a sex addict in last year’s feature Shame, Steve McQueen has been known for years as perhaps the leading visual artist working in film, ever since he made a splash with early works such as 1995’s Five Easy Pieces. In 2008 he won the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for his take on the 1981 Irish hunger strike, Hunger.
Now the Art Institute of Chicago is putting on the first wide survey of his work, up through Jan 6. It only has this one American venue, and it only travels to the Schaulager in Basel, Switzerland. That’s it. I find its lack of another American venue odd – especially that it isn't stopping anywhere on the East Coast – but the Institute has the biggest collection of his work on these shores and they are proud to be showing it off.
Steve McQueen. Bear, 1993. Photo courtesy of the artist; Marian Goodman Gallery, New York /Paris; and Thomas Dane Gallery, London.
McQueen, a Brit who lives and works in London and Amsterdam, is not known for doing a lot of glad-handing – you won’t find him chit-chatting with a lot of interviewers – but he showed up at the museum as part of the opening events. That tells me that McQueen (who shows at Marian Goodman Gallery) considers the show a big deal indeed.
Luckily, another chance to see his work in the States is coming up soon at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. West Coasters can check out McQueen’s 2009 Static – an intense focus on the Statue of Liberty, of all things – on view from Nov. 23 until sometime in February, as it’s part of the museum’s permanent collection.