Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Five Easy Pieces

Steve McQueen (British, born London, 1969)
Single-channel digital video, transferred from 16mm film, black-and-white, silent, 7 min., 4 sec.
108 x 144 in. (274.3 x 365.8 cm)
Variable Media
Credit Line:
Jointly owned by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, purchased with the Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 2016 and the Art Gallery of Ontario, purchased with the assistance of Peter Ross and the David Yuile and Mary Elizabeth Hodgson Fund, 2016
Accession Number:
Rights and Reproduction:
© Steve McQueen. All rights reserved.
Not on view
One of a trilogy of seminal early films by this talented filmmaker, Five Easy Pieces outlines the themes and artistic strategies that have guided McQueen’s work since he emerged in the mid-1990s. Marked by spatial, temporal, and narrative disjointedness and ambiguity, the work’s movements cohere into an orchestrated meditation on film itself. Its five "pieces" are united as experiments in cinematic form—the rhythmic exercises of the bodies throughout it are mirrored by the focus of the camera through formal experiments that resemble those of early modernist photographers such as Aleksandr Rodchenko and László Moholy-Nagy. Because it implicitly connects the history of photographic representation to both race and sexuality—foregrounded, for example, by the camera’s fixation on the dancer’s swinging buttocks and breasts—Five Easy Pieces also heralds the prominence of social issues in McQueen’s oeuvre to date.
[Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Paris, until 2016; sold to MMA and the Art Gallery of Ontario]

The Metropolitan Museum of Art [The Met Breuer]. "The Body Politic: Video from The Met Collection," June 20–September 3, 2017, no catalogue.

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