New McQueen Book & Exhibit Are Worth Adding to Your Holiday List
Exhibition photography and writing by Paul Thompson
You probably think you don’t need another Steve McQueen book. But be prepared to rewrite the Christmas list. Recently opened in London is a Custom Factory exhibition to celebrate a new book Unseen McQueen: Barry Feinstein. I went to investigate and was prepared to be unimpressed. For me there are already two definitive books: William Claxton’s Steve McQueen, and Francois Gragnon’s Steve. I couldn’t possibly need more, could I?
However, this is something exceptional. Photographer Barry Feinstein was a personal friend of McQueen and was allowed to get close to the action. The book covers a golden period from 1960 to 1968 and shows him on set in Bullitt, on the racetrack, and at home. Even if you have suffered McQueen overload, like me, this is a timely reminder what all the fuss is really about. These are inspired images showing a weekend hero racing his sports cars, relaxing with the family and at work on the film set. All are gloriously informal and effortlessly stylish.
The book is edited by Dagon James and Tony Nourmand and is published by Reel Art Press.
The exhibition titled “Live For Myself, Answer To Nobody” celebrates Feinstein and McQueen’s shared passion for motorbikes and machinery. It features, obviously, a Mustang and a Charger in Bullitt livery alongside replicas of significant McQueen bikes, like a Great Escape barbed-wire jumper. It also hails the outsider and petrolhead with new art works from the UK underground.
The artist and biker Death Spray Custom was commissioned to produce a series of helmets celebrating each of the biker characters and alter egos that McQueen used over the years: Mike Delaney in Le Mans, McQueen in the 1964 U.S. ISDT Team, and On Any Sunday and more. Each is expertly realised and is a unique take on a theme.
Bike builder and artist Corpses From Hell produced a custom “Live For Myself”-themed Bobber tank, and London-based portrait photographer Sam Christmas has focused on recreating Easy Rider in the English Home Counties. But for me, the pick of the crop was the addition of several Barry Feinstein photographs showing McQueen’s great friend Von Dutch at work. They show the legendary pinstriper with grimy fingers and pinstripers brushes working on an ice cool stars and stripes bike tank.
London – Now until January 14, 2014. The exhibition is staged in London’s Soho on the top floor of a car park at 32 Brewer Street. Open Wednesday to Sunday, 12pm-6pm.
New York City – Unseen McQueen prints went up in the Belstaff store on Madison Avenue for an exclusive charity event on December 12 and will be there until the show arrives in the spring.