Bear runs the entire gamut of human emotions. Two naked men face one another as if in a sparring match. Two naked men face one another as if in a sparring match. They size each other up, stare at and circle round each other like two wrestlers. The two bodies lock together, their grimacing faces reflecting the physical strain and effort. The next moment we see four legs circling synchronously in extreme slow motion, as if dancing a waltz. The violent facial expressions give way to gentle smiles. —Jan Winkelmann
Born in London, McQueen grew up in West London and went to Drayton Manor High School. He was a keen footballer, turning out for the St. Georges Colts football team. He did an art A level at Hammersmith and West London College, then 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… read more