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Weekly Watchlist: Capturing Evidence of the Human Touch

Jamian Juliano-Villani grapples with creative and logistical pressures

Can an artist stay inspired day in and day out?

Having worked under near constant deadlines in her Queens studio, Jamian Juliano-Villani grappled with the demands of consistently producing new and better work. “The main pressure is maintaining integrity and making work that you feel good about,” said the artist, “even under pressure, which is really difficult.”

Experimenting with images from her vast digital image collection, Juliano-Villani searched for the right content and composition to achieve a balance between psychological depth and light humor.

“Stress assassinates creativity,” declared the artist. “You’re only as good as your last painting, which sucks but it’s kind of the truth.”

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Playlist: Human Touch

Margaret Kilgallen in her San Francisco studio, 2000. Production still from the Art in the Twenty-First Century episode, “Place“. © Art21, Inc. 2001.

Drips of paint falling across a canvas, erased charcoal, or a fingerprint left on a sculpture, all are lasting evidence of the human touch. Nuances both subtle and pronounced capture the handmade, one-of-a-kind essence of an artist’s work.

This visceral visibility is what made Margaret Kilgallen‘s large-scale paintings feel so personal. “My hand will always be imperfect, because it’s human,” mused Kilgallen.

Remnants of human activity are also what steeps graffiti with intrigue for Barry McGee, acting as “a presence of other people doing things” on the fringe of society.

A freehand approach, while natural for some, can be equally challenging. Marcel Dzama admits that “if paint dripped across my drawing I would try to incorporate it,” whereas Raymond Pettibon, with whom Dzama frequently collaborates, “would just leave the drops.”

Drawing from an array of practices, this collection of films explores the organic nature of artists whose work is marked by the human touch.

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22 films for 2020

During a year where a virtual lens was best-case scenario for many of us looking to get a glimpse into the lives of others, we recognized that our work struck a new resonance amongst artists, students, educators, and viewers worldwide.

Seven films were introduced across our Extended Play and New York Close Up series, featuring artists: Meriem Bennani, Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg, Jes Fan, Hiwa K, Jacolby Satterwhite, Krzysztof Wodiczko, and Bryan Zanisnik.

Celebrating its tenth season on PBS, our flagship Art in the Twenty-First Century series premiered three new episodes, charting artmaking in London, Beijing, and regions around the United States-Mexico border.

The new television season comprised of twelve individual artist segments, featuring: Tanya Aguiñiga, John Akomfrah, Phyllida Barlow, Guan Xiao, Anish Kapoor, Liu Xiaodong, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Christian Marclay, Richard Misrach, Postcommodity, Song Dong, Xu Bing, and Yin Xiuzhen.

In addition to the twenty-two new films released throughout this past year, our audiences streamed films spanning two decades of Art21’s entire filmic output—a collection of over 65 hours of filmall free on Art21.org.

Whatever may have led you to stream an Art21 film this year, we hope that the experience delivered a moment of respite and a dose of creative energy. Thank you for tuning in!

Thank you for supporting our work

Your indispensable, generous donations make our work possible. With safety measures in place, Art21 has resumed on-site film shoots and will release films in the coming year, and will produce even more digital education programs allowing for multiple avenues to discover and interact with contemporary art. Resources that are in higher demand now than ever before.

If you are able at this time, please consider making a year-end contribution to Art21. Your donation helps to ensure artists’ voices have a lasting impact for generations to come.