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McQueen: the big picture

Artist gets catalogue raisonne—a rarity for a film specialist

McQueen (right) on the set of “Shame”

A catalogue raisonné of the work of the British film-maker Steve McQueen is one of the first to be dedicated to an artist working mainly with the moving image. “The cultural value of this medium is clearly increasing,” says the gallerist Edward Winkleman, who is also the co-founder of the Moving Image art fair (London, 11-14 October).

The catalogue is being published to coincide with the first large-scale survey show in America of McQueen’s work, which opens this month at the Art Institute of Chicago (21 October-6 January 2013) before travelling to the Schaulager in Basel, Switzerland (1 March-7 July 2013). The publication includes the feature films “Hunger” and “Shame”, a detailed exhibition history, 220 colour illustrations and a comprehensive bibliography. “We’re trying to set academic, scholarly and practical standards for how we describe technology and how we account for its migration to DVD and digital,” says James Rondeau, the catalogue’s co-author and the curator of contemporary art at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Such focused scholarship on this medium is “overdue—but going to continue”, says John Hanhardt, the senior curator of media arts at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. He is working on a catalogue of Andy Warhol’s films and hopes to research one on Nam June Paik. “I’m convinced that the history of 20th-century art is going to be rewritten through the moving image… a new generation of artists is moving so easily into the form because it’s so available and present.”

Although a few major dealers, such as Leo Castelli, began to promote video art in the 1970s, it was not until the 1990s that most “galleries started to pay attention. They realised that a market was involved in editioning these works,” says Chrissie Iles, the film and video curator at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art. Around the same time, some key institutional figures, such as the Centre Pompidou’s curator Christine Van Assche, began seriously collecting new-media works, Iles says. Museums have recently started to increase their involvement: in July, London’s Tate Modern opened its Tanks, which are dedicated to film and performance, while the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has joined forces with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to plan a museum of film. “It’s rare to see a museum survey show nowadays that doesn’t have a large percentage of moving-image-based work,” says Winkleman, adding that most institutions that collect film and video works are “actively going back and filling in some of their historical gaps”.

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