The artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen CBE was born in London in 1969. After studying at Chelsea School of Art, he went on to attend Goldsmiths College, London and Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, New York. McQueen works primarily in film, using both 16mm and 35mm formats and video. Working predominantly in black and white, his films reference the conventions of cinema and acknowledge experimental approaches pioneered by directors Eisenstein and Welles.
McQueen uses techniques such as editing, framing, close ups in extreme forms to create dramatic and enigmatic scenarios. His films have a directness and economy that focuses attention on the significant details of action and movement of the protagonist. McQueen's first major film, Bear (1993) is a physical confrontation between two naked men. The camera angles and shots are used to map out the ambiguous relationship between them. This was followed by Five Easy Pieces (1995), Stage (1996) and Just Above My Head (1996). The visual minimalism of these works lends a monumentality of gravity and image.
He is known for his film 12 Years a Slave (2013), a historical adaptation of an 1853 slave narrative memoir, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Picture, the first black filmmaker to do so.
McQueen also experiments in other media and had his first sculptural show at the ICA London titled White Elephant (1998). In 1996, McQueen won the ICA Futures Award and in 1998 he was awarded a DAAD artist's scholarship. McQueen has exhibited widely in Europe and the United States, a major solo exhibition of his work was shown at the Institute of Contemporary Art, London before touring to the Kunsthalle, Zurich. McQueen famously received the Turner Prize in 1999.
He was knighted in the 2020 New Year's Honours.