Hugh Steers

Shadow Box II (1991)
Oil on gessoed paper
13h x 11.1w in (33h x 28.2w cm)
Shadow Box II (1991)
Oil on gessoed paper
13h x 11.1w in (33h x 28.2w cm)
Door to Tub (c. 1989-90)
Oil On Canvas
65.1h x 44w in (165.4h x 111.8w cm)
Door to Tub (c. 1989-90)
Oil On Canvas
65.1h x 44w in (165.4h x 111.8w cm)
Hospital Bed (1993)
Oil on canvas
64.25h x 65w in (163.2h x 165.1w cm)
Hospital Bed (1993)
Oil on canvas
64.25h x 65w in (163.2h x 165.1w cm)
Futon Couch (1991)
Oil On Canvas
56h x 60w in (142.2h x 152.4w cm)
Futon Couch (1991)
Oil On Canvas
56h x 60w in (142.2h x 152.4w cm)
Showers II (1990)
Oil on canvas
42.25h x 51w in (107.32h x 129.54w cm)
Showers II (1990)
Oil on canvas
42.25h x 51w in (107.32h x 129.54w cm)
Mr. Coffee (1993)
Oil on canvas
48h x 34w in (121.92h x 86.36w cm)
Mr. Coffee (1993)
Oil on canvas
48h x 34w in (121.92h x 86.36w cm)
White Shirt and Tie II (1988)
Oil on gessoed paper
11h x 15w in (27.9h x 38.1w cm)
White Shirt and Tie II (1988)
Oil on gessoed paper
11h x 15w in (27.9h x 38.1w cm)
Foot Care (1987)
Oil on gessoed paper
15.2h x 11w in (38.6h x 27.9w cm)
Foot Care (1987)
Oil on gessoed paper
15.2h x 11w in (38.6h x 27.9w cm)
Blue Uniform (1991)
Oil on canvas
66h x 72w in (167.64h x 182.88w cm)
Blue Uniform (1991)
Oil on canvas
66h x 72w in (167.64h x 182.88w cm)
Bath Curtain (1992)
Oil on canvas
71.94h x 60.13w in (182.73h x 152.73w cm)
Bath Curtain (1992)
Oil on canvas
71.94h x 60.13w in (182.73h x 152.73w cm)
Morning Terrace (1992)
Oil on canvas
72h x 54w in (182.88h x 137.16w cm)
Morning Terrace (1992)
Oil on canvas
72h x 54w in (182.88h x 137.16w cm)
Blue Towel, Red Tank (1988)
Oil on canvas
66.25h x 72w in (168.28h x 182.88w cm)
Blue Towel, Red Tank (1988)
Oil on canvas
66.25h x 72w in (168.28h x 182.88w cm)
Maroon Shed (1991)
Oil On Canvas
60h x 60w in (152.4h x 152.4w cm)
Maroon Shed (1991)
Oil On Canvas
60h x 60w in (152.4h x 152.4w cm)
Purple Drape (1988)
Oil on gessoed paper
10.3h x 11.3w in (26.2h x 28.7w cm)
Purple Drape (1988)
Oil on gessoed paper
10.3h x 11.3w in (26.2h x 28.7w cm)
Tied at the Wrist (1988)
Oil on gessoed paper
13.9h x 11.2w in (35.3h x 28.4w cm)
Tied at the Wrist (1988)
Oil on gessoed paper
13.9h x 11.2w in (35.3h x 28.4w cm)
I.V. (1991)
Oil on gessoed paper
14.5h x 10.75w in (36.83h x 27.31w cm)
I.V. (1991)
Oil on gessoed paper
14.5h x 10.75w in (36.83h x 27.31w cm)
Raft (1991)
Oil On Canvas
40h x 30.25w in (101.6h x 76.8w cm)
Raft (1991)
Oil On Canvas
40h x 30.25w in (101.6h x 76.8w cm)
Chair to Bed (1993)
Oil on canvas
60.06h x 53.13w in (152.55h x 134.95w cm)
Chair to Bed (1993)
Oil on canvas
60.06h x 53.13w in (152.55h x 134.95w cm)
Yellow Washcloth (1992)
Oil on canvas
54h x 62w in (137.16h x 157.48w cm)
Yellow Washcloth (1992)
Oil on canvas
54h x 62w in (137.16h x 157.48w cm)

Biography

 view entire CV PDF 80 K

Hugh Steers (1962–1995) was born in Washington, D.C., and trained in painting at Yale University and Parsons School of Art and Design. He was celebrated for his allegorical paintings that captured the emotional and political tenor of New York in the late 1980s and early 1990s, particularly the impact of Queer identity and the AIDS crisis. He maintained a commitment to figuration throughout his career, cut dramatically short by AIDS at the age of 32. Influenced by historical figures of American art, including Thomas Eakins, Edward Hopper, and Paul Cadmus, he embraced representational painting and figuration at a time when such approaches were especially unfashionable. 



Steers described his artistic perspective in an interview in September 1992: “I think I'm in the tradition of a certain kind of American artist—artists whose work embodies a certain gorgeous bleakness. Edward Hopper, Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline—they all had this austere beauty to them. They found beauty in the most brutal forms. I think that's what characterizes America, the atmosphere, its culture, its cities and landscape. They all have that soft glow of brutality.”



Steers rendered intimate scenes that embraced the polemics of identity politics, mortality issues, erotism, and frailty. His compositions are distinguished by a dramatic and colorful palette, skewed use of perspective, and a masterful depiction of light. His painting took a departure from the more didactic work of his peers. During the last five years of his artistic practice he introduced a fictive alter ego, a slender figure wearing a hospital gown, as he focused his compositions on AIDS as a subject matter. His scenes draw on community experience and his own imagination to create dreamlike allegory intermixed with figurative realism. The resulting images amplify issues of mortality and isolation, defiance, and compassion.

His work has been exhibited at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2013); New Museum of Contemporary Art (1994); Richard Anderson, New York (1992); Midtown Galleries, New York (1992); Denver Art Museum, CO (1991); Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY (1988); and the Drawing Center, New York (1987); among others. Steers’ work is in private and public art collections such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Walker Art Center, and the Denver Art Museum. In 1989, Steers received a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Fellowship. His work was recently featured in the exhibition Art AIDS America curated by Jonathan Katz and Rock Hushka at the Tacoma Art Museum, WA in September 2015, traveling to the West Hollywood Library and One Archives Gallery and Museum, Los Angeles, CA, the Zuckerman Museum of Art, Kennesaw, GA, and the Bronx Musuem of the Arts, New York, NY in 2016. A comprehensive monographic catalogue of Steers’ work was published by Visual AIDS in 2015.

Articles / Reviews

  • Steers A&U Magazine    PDF 513 K
  • Steers Artforum  April 2015  PDF 355 K
  • Steers New York Times  February 8, 2013  PDF 163 K
  • Steers Huffington Post  January 23, 2013  PDF 73 K
  • Steers Visual AIDS  January 21, 2013  PDF 0.8 MB
  • Steers New Yorker  July 16, 2012  PDF 75 K
  • Steers Village Voice  February 14, 2006  PDF 303 K
  • Steers New England Review  Winter 2001  PDF 191 K
  • Steers OUT Magazine  October 2000  PDF 252 K
  • Steers New York Times  June 26, 1988  PDF 490 K
  • Steers New York Times  December 26, 1997  PDF 309 K
  • Steers New York Observer  December 8, 1997  PDF 75 K
  • Steers OUT Magazine  December - January 1995  PDF 740 K
  • Steers New Yorker  November 28, 1994  PDF 237 K
  • Steers New York Times  November 4, 1994  PDF 295 K
  • Steers New York Press  November 2 - 8, 1994  PDF 165 K
  • Steers Body Positive  August 1994  PDF 1.6 MB
  • Steers Art in America  June 1994  PDF 1 MB
  • Steers Art in America  April 1994  PDF 538 K
  • Steers Artforum  April 1994  PDF 498 K
  • Steers Art & Auction  February 1994  PDF 317 K
  • Steers New Yorker  November 1, 1993  PDF 294 K
  • Steers Washington Post  May 8, 1993  PDF 1.2 MB
  • Steers Artforum  November 1992  PDF 486 K
  • Steers QW  September 20, 1992  PDF 1 MB
  • Steers New York Times  September 18, 1992  PDF 270 K
  • Steers Washington Post  January 4, 1992  PDF 399 K
  • Steers Artforum  September 1991  PDF 736 K
  • Steers Connoisseur Magazine  September 1991  PDF 1.4 MB
  • Steers Elle Magazine  May 1991  PDF 426 K
  • Steers Arts Magazine  October 1990  PDF 695 K