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Further Details Announced on Dia Art Foundation and Laurenz Foundation’s Major Commission by Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen’s Bass to Premiere at Dia Beacon on May 12, 2024, and Travel to Schaulager in Summer 2025

New York, New York, May 8, 2024 – Dia Art Foundation and Laurenz Foundation, Schaulager Basel, today announced further details of a major co-commission by the renowned artist and film director Steve McQueen. The commission, titled Bass (2024), will first be presented in the vast lower level of Dia Beacon, New York, from May 12, 2024, through April 14, 2025, before traveling to Schaulager, Münchenstein, in June 2025.

The joint commission at Dia Beacon will be accompanied by a concurrent exhibition of McQueen’s work at Dia Chelsea. This presentation, opening September 20, 2024, will feature McQueen’s 2022 film Sunshine State, alongside a new work. This two-part presentation marks Dia’s 50th year and highlights the institution’s decades-long commitment to ambitious, single-artist presentations.

“I am thrilled that in 2024, as we celebrate Dia’s 50th anniversary, we are able to bring McQueen’s work in a multitude of forms to viewers in Beacon and Chelsea. Since the 1990s, McQueen’s work has witnessed and marked our time, bringing lasting insight into our condition. This expansive, two-part presentation is a powerful example of our programming across locations and of how these long-term encounters with artists foster a unique engagement with audiences,” said Jessica Morgan, Dia’s Nathalie de Gunzburg Director.

Maja Oeri, president of Laurenz Foundation and Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation, added: “At Schaulager we are thrilled to join forces with Dia in realizing this exciting new project and enabling its commission. Over the past few decades, McQueen has become one of the most significant artists in our collection. Our collaborations with him include the widely acclaimed, large-scale survey exhibition at Schaulager in 2013, a City of Cinemas that presented over 20 of his filmic artworks.”

For more than 30 years, McQueen has continually investigated the possibilities inherent in film—as a material, a documentary tool, and a storytelling medium—resulting in work that is both formally inventive and politically pointed. Working in film, video, installation, and photography, McQueen critically engages with themes such as history, class, and race through filmic imagery and nonlinear storytelling.

With no moving-image element, Bass is a complete environment comprised of the most basic, structural elements of film: light and sound. The work consists of 60 ceiling-mounted lightboxes emanating a shifting spectrum of visible light and three stacks of speakers transmitting bass sounds from different points in the gallery. As the light changes color slowly, almost imperceptibly, it floods the subterranean space and pillared architecture, while the sound that is broadcast from the strategically placed speakers reverberates off the gallery’s concrete surfaces. Created in response to the expansive lower-level gallery of Dia Beacon, Bass is an all-encompassing, sensory experience; deeply resonant and at times disorienting, the work is not only seen but actively felt.

To create the music of Bass, McQueen focused solely on the titular instrument, working with renowned electric bassist Marcus Miller to assemble an intergenerational group of Afro-diasporic musicians, each an expert in a specific type of bass and musical style. In January 2024, the group—including Miller, Aston Barrett Jr., Mamadou Kouyaté, Laura-Simone Martin, and Meshell Ndegeocello—came together at Dia Beacon to record a collaborative, improvisational score in response to the changing light, resonance of the space, and one another, conducted by McQueen. Made with acoustic and electric bass instruments, including the Malian bass ngoni, the composition reflects the hybrid musical idioms that resulted from the transatlantic slave trade between West Africa, the Americas, and the Caribbean—important early references for this work. In this way, Bass builds on McQueen’s ongoing formal investigations in light, color, and sound, but also speaks to the artist’s enduring commitment to foregrounding power structures, the history and ongoing impact of slavery, and racial politics across his practice. With Bass, McQueen embraces abstraction as a method of conveying the inexpressible.

“This ambitious commission expands all that Steve McQueen is known for and mines the possibilities of abstraction,” said Donna De Salvo, Dia’s senior adjunct curator, special projects. “His gallery installations, as well as his feature films, tell stories based on investigations into histories, often repressed or forgotten. While Bass takes as its starting point the histories of Jazz, the Middle Passage, and structural film, the experience of the work is open-ended. McQueen places us, individually and collectively, at the center of his scenarios, thus firmly embedding us in the inescapable present. In McQueen’s words, he ‘wants to put the public in a situation where everyone becomes acutely sensitive to themselves, to their body, and respiration.”

The commission will be accompanied by a catalog, co-published by Dia Art Foundation and Laurenz Foundation, Schaulager Basel, documenting the development of Bass alongside essays and illustrations. The catalog will be published in September 2024.

Steve McQueen at Dia Beacon is curated by Donna De Salvo, senior adjunct curator, special projects, with Emily Markert, curatorial assistant, and Randy Gibson, manager of exhibition technology. Following Dia Beacon, the commission will travel to Schaulager, Münchenstein, where it will be curated by Heidi Naef, senior curator, and adapted to the institution’s unique exhibition spaces.The joint commission is made possible by the Laurenz Foundation, Schaulager Basel.

All exhibitions at Dia are made possible through the Economou Exhibition Fund.

Dia’s two-part presentation of Steve McQueen is made possible by major support from Ford Foundation, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, and Brenda R. Potter. Significant support by the Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston. Generous support by Dia’s Director’s Council and additional support by the Imperfect Family Foundation, Dawn and David Lenhardt, and Visiolite. 

About Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen was born in London in 1969. Surveys of his work have been held at the Art Institute of Chicago and Laurenz Foundation, Schaulager Basel (2012–13); Tate Modern, London (2020); and Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan (2022). Recent solo presentations include those at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2016); the Art Institute of Chicago (2017); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2017); Pérez Art Museum, Miami (2017); Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester (2017); Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2017–18); Tate Britain, London (2019–21); and Serpentine Gallery, London (2023). McQueen has participated in Documenta X (1997) and XI (2002), as well as the Venice Biennale (2003, 2007, 2013, and 2015), representing Great Britain in 2009. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Turner Prize (1999); W. E. B. Du Bois Medal, Harvard University (2014); and Johannes Vermeer Award (2016). He was declared Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2002, Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2011, and Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2020.

McQueen directed the feature films Hunger (2008), Shame (2011), 12 Years a Slave (2014), and Widows (2018); as well as the series Small Axe (2020), an anthology of five films shown on the BBC and Amazon; and Uprising (2021), a three-part documentary series for the BBC. His documentary Occupied City (2023) is based on the book Atlas van een bezette stad: Amsterdam 1940-1945 (Atlas of an Occupied City: Amsterdam 1940–1945, 2019) by Bianca Stigter. McQueen won the Caméra d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for Hunger in 2008 and an Oscar for Best Motion Picture for 12 Years a Slave in 2014.

McQueen lives in Amsterdam and London.

About Dia Art Foundation

Taking its name from the Greek word meaning “through,” Dia was established in 1974 with the mission to serve as a conduit for artists to realize ambitious new projects, unmediated by overt interpretation and uncurbed by the limitations of more traditional museums and galleries. Dia’s programming fosters contemplative and sustained consideration of a single artist’s body of work and its collection is distinguished by the deep and longstanding relationships that the nonprofit has cultivated with artists whose work came to prominence particularly in the 1960s and ’70s. 

In addition to Dia Beacon, Dia Bridgehampton, and Dia Chelsea, Dia maintains and operates a constellation of commissions, long-term installations, and site-specific projects, notably focused on Land art, nationally and internationally. These include: 

  • Walter De Maria’s The New York Earth Room (1977) and The Broken Kilometer (1979), Max Neuhaus’s Times Square (1977), and Joseph Beuys’s 7000 Eichen (7000 Oaks, inaugurated in 1982 and ongoing), all located in New York
  • De Maria’s The Lightning Field (1977), in western New Mexico
  • Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (1970), in the Great Salt Lake, Utah
  • Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels (1973–76), in the Great Basin Desert, Utah
  • De Maria’s The Vertical Earth Kilometer (1977), in Kassel, Germany 
  • Cameron Rowland’s Depreciation (2018)

About Schaulager, Laurenz Foundation

Established in 2003, Schaulager in Basel, Switzerland, is an unprecedented institution focusing on open storage and research of contemporary art. Devised by collector Maja Oeri, it is housed in a unique building designed by Pritzker-winning architects Herzog&de Meuron in Münchenstein/Basel. Schaulager’s innovative concept has gained worldwide recognition among professionals and scholars. It is complemented by meticulously researched large-scale survey exhibitions focusing on artists from the collection. In addition to the running of Schaulager, Laurenz Foundation also funds two professorships in the Art History department of the University of Basel and enables projects promoting contemporary art worldwide.

For additional information or materials, contact: 

Dia Art Foundation

(U.S. press inquiries)
Hannah Gompertz, Dia Art Foundation,, +1 212 293 5598
Melissa Parsoff, Parsoff Communications,, +1 516 445 5899
(International press inquiries)
Sam Talbot,, +44 (0) 772 5184 630

Schaulager, Laurenz Foundation
Silke Kellner-Mergenthaler, Schaulager,, +41 61 335 32 32

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