Steve McQueen: Master Storyteller

For anyone interested in the art of telling stories – and let’s face it, that’s pretty much anyone in the creative industries – Steve McQueen’s retrospective exhibition at Tate Modern is a must see

Steve McQueen’s huge success as a director for cinema – which saw him collect the Best Picture Oscar in 2013 for 12 Years a Slave – has somewhat overshadowed his adjacent career as an artist of late. But his show at Tate Modern in London brings this aspect of his output roaring back into the spotlight.

The exhibition features 14 works, stretching back to his very first experiments with film in the early 90s, and is accompanied by McQueen’s Year 3 project, the artist’s attempt to document contemporary London via the traditional school class portrait, which is on show at Tate Britain.

McQueen’s focus throughout the Tate Modern show switches between the very personal and intimate – one film, Cold Breath from 1999, is ten minutes of the artist tweaking and pulling his own nipple – to broader political and societal issues. What unites it all is his skill for drawing out the story of any situation, however seemingly small.

Charlotte, 2004; All images: © Steve McQueen. Courtesy the artist, Thomas Dane Gallery and Marian Goodman Gallery