Mission & Vision
Art21 is a celebrated global leader in presenting thought-provoking and sophisticated content about contemporary art, and the go-to place to learn first-hand from the artists of our time. Art21’s mission is to inspire a more creative and inclusive world through the works and words of contemporary artists.
Art21 provides unparalleled access to the artist’s voice to diverse audiences around the world, using the power of digital media to introduce millions of people to contemporary art and artists. For over two decades, Art21 has changed the paradigm for teaching and learning about the creative process.
In addition to its Peabody Award-winning PBS-broadcast television series Art in the Twenty-First Century, Art21 produces the digital film series New York Close Up and Extended Play; and special artist projects including the Peabody Award-winning feature William Kentridge: Anything Is Possible. Art21 also creates educational resources and professional development programs; annual public programming; an online publication featuring guest contributors; and a comprehensive website at Art21.org.
Art21 produces thoughtful documentary films about today’s leading contemporary artists and their art. In its signature style, Art21 captures the artist’s voice without narration through its flagship PBS-broadcast series, Art in the Twenty-First Century, and digital short film series Extended Play and New York Close Up. The entire library of Art21 films is available to stream for free online.
The Art21 Michael C. Sandler Education Program engages audiences in dialogue about the contemporary art and the artists featured in Art21 films. Art21’s educational initiatives include the Art21 Educators learning community, the production of interpretive resources, professional development workshops and lectures, and participatory programs and screening events.
Art21 serves educators and their students by providing free materials and programs devoted to the exploration of contemporary art and artists, including a widely distributed series of Educators’ and Screening Guides. In the months following the broadcast of each new season of Art in the Twenty-First Century, Art21 encourages a wide variety of partners—schools, universities, libraries, museums, non-profit organizations, galleries, arts and cultural spaces, community centers, and more—to join the Art21 Screening Society by hosting public screenings of Art in the Twenty-First Century.
Art21 presents a wide range of writing on contemporary art. Drawing connections between Art21-featured artists and the larger context in which they thrive, Art21’s READ section chronicles this landscape, post-by-post—posing broader, meditative questions about the place of art in our world.
Being An Artist (published 2018) captures the engaging and seminal conversations that have taken place over the organization’s history, serving as an essential primer on a generation of contemporary artists for those interested in the artistic process as a tool for curriculum building.
Digital channels serve as a primary means for disseminating much of Art21’s programming. In addition to providing instant access to Art21’s films and accompanying resources through Art21.org, Art21 uses digital platforms to further serve and engage with its audiences.
Art21 maintains a constant presence across social media platforms, providing opportunities for direct engagement with Art21 staff, featured artists, and projects, and offering extended perspectives on Art21 activities and resources. The Art21 social media presence—overseen by the organization’s digital media department—includes platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Art21.live, a curated streaming video channel on contemporary art, delivers 24/7 programming to audiences worldwide. The channel draws from over 60 hours of film from the Art21 video library, all hand-selected and programmed by Art21 staff.
The Art21 Translation Project is committed to making Art21 films accessible beyond English-speaking communities. The project brings together a community of volunteers to help transcribe and translate Art21 videos. Through the efforts of the translation community, the words of artists become more accessible to audiences across languages, as well as to viewers who are deaf and hard of hearing.
Art21’s digital initiatives also include projects created in collaboration with artists. Previous projects include avaf + art21 comboworks (a special collaboration with artist collective assume vivid astro focus) and Twitter “takeovers” by artist Eleanor Antin.
Art21 maintains an extensive library of all of the films and educational materials it produces. The core of the Art21 Library is nearly one thousand hours of original documentary footage amassed during the production of Art21’s films. Art21 continues to film with previously featured artists, documenting art installations, exhibitions, and performances at galleries and museums worldwide. The Art21 Library also includes film documentation of Art21’s education and public programs, including hundreds of hours of video by Art21 Educators participants. The filmed material in the Art21 Library is supplemented with transcribed interviews, research materials, educational publications, Web pages, books, and digital and analog artwork reproductions.