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)
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
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.
Christian Haye. "Just an Illusion." Frieze (September 8, 1995).
Christian Haye. Frieze "Steve McQueen: Motion Pictures." (May 9, 1996).
Dominic Molon. Steve McQueen: Steve McQueen's Uneasy Silence. Exh. cat., Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. 1996.
Martha Gever. Spellbound. Exh. cat., Hayward Gallery. London, 1996, pp. 93-99, ill.
Jon Thompson. Steve McQueen: It's the Way you Tell 'Em: Narrative Cliché in the Films of Steve McQueen. Exh. cat., Portikus Frankfurt am Main Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven. 1997, pp. 5-9, ill.
Michael Rush. "Mighty Silence." Performing Arts Journal (1997).
Barbara London. Projects 62: Steve McQueen. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 1997.
Okwui Enwezor. Steve McQueen: Haptic Visions: The Films of Steve McQueen. Exh. cat., Kunsthalle Zürich Institute of Contemporary Arts. London, 1997, pp. 37-50, ill.
Robert Storr. Steve McQueen: Going Places. Exh. cat., Institute of Contemporary Arts Kunsthalle Zürich. 1997, p. 9.
Michael Newman. Steve McQueen: McQueen's Materialism. Exh. cat., Institute of Contemporary Arts Kunsthalle Zürich. 1997.
Mark Durden. "Viewing Positions: Steve McQueen." Parachute (2000).
Ilka Becker. Lightweights: Viewer Positionings in the Films of Steve McQueen. Exh. cat., Kunsthalle Wien. Vienna, 2001, pp. 47-58, ill.
Benjamin H.D. Buchloh. A Selection of Forty Artists from Thirty Years at Marian Goodman Gallery: Steve McQueen. Exh. cat., Marian Goodman Gallery. New York, 2007.
Jon Thompson. The Collected Writings of Jon Thompson. London, 2011, pp 225-231.
Okwui Enwezor. Steve McQueen. Works: From Screen to Space: Projection and Reanimation in the Early Work of Steve McQueen. Exh. cat., Schaulager Basel. 2012, pp. 28, 34, ill.
Georges Didi-Huberman. Steve McQueen. Works: Commemoration on the High Wire. Exh. cat., Schaulager Basel. 2012, p. 38, ill.
Adrian Searle. Steve McQueen. Works: A Conversation with Steve McQueen. Exh. cat., Schaulager Basel. 2012, pp. 28, 34, ill.
Aoife Rosenmeyer. "Steve McQueen." Art in America (July 10, 2013).
Claire Hoffmann. I want the screen to be a massive mirror: Lectures on Steve McQueen. Exh. cat., Schaulager Basel. 2013, p. 163.