As of February 27, 2015, the Stedelijk Museum
will exhibit two recently acquired works by British artist and film director Steve McQueen. The works, titled Running Thunder (2007) and Mees, After Evening Dip, New Years Day, 2002 (2005) were acquired in 2014 and will be displayed in a museum for the first time. They will be shown along with the sculpture Broken Column (2014), on loan at the museum.
Running Thunder is a silent film showing a motionless horse lying in a sunny meadow. Blades of grass shiver in the breeze. Nothing happens and yet we are enthralled. Is the horse alive and sleeping? Is this scene one of tranquility, or one of unflinching disquiet? When finally a fly stops to rest on the eye of the animal and the horse doesnt blink, we realize it has been dead for quite a while. Amidst the perpetual stream of rapid impressions that bombard us every day, the image produces a sense of dread in a very subtle way. McQueen demonstrates that a static shot can be equally, if not more, compelling than an action-packed and visually overloaded film.
The second work, Mees, After Evening Dip, New Years Day, 2002, shows a trembling boy on a beach. He has just participated in the New Years Dip of 2002, the first New Year after the events of 9/11. The young boys vulnerability and the dramatically slanting horizon provoke an uneasy tension. As monumental as it is intimate, this work is typical of McQueen. The image has all the hallmarks of a film still and shows us a glimpse of a story we are invited to complete. The artist offers the hint of a narrative, leaving us to imagine the events that led up to this moment and the events that will follow.
Steve McQueen (London, 1969) gained a reputation in the 90s with his film and video works, which are noted for their sparing use of cinematographic editing techniques and sound effects. His minimalist approach generates an almost palpable tension. The Stedelijk has acquired his work since 2004 and holds three works of the artist in its collection.
McQueen has directed several short films, including Dead Pan (1997), which has been shown in the Museum of Modern Art New York, and Western Deep (2002), which was part of documenta 11. In recent years, he began working beyond the boundaries of museum art to become a successful movie director. McQueen has directed films such as Hunger (2008) and Shame (2011). His film 12 Years a Slave (2013) was awarded an Oscar for Best Picture.