Art in the Twenty-First Century

The only series on television in the U.S. to focus exclusively on contemporary visual art and artists, Art in the Twenty-First Century is a Peabody Award-winning biennial program that allows viewers to observe the artists at work, watch as they transform inspiration into art, and hear how they struggle with both the physical and visual challenges of achieving their visions.

Broadcast Seasons

Season 8   2016

For the first time in the show’s history, the artists in Season 8 are grouped by the unique and revealing relationships to the places where they live: Chicago, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and Vancouver. The artists share universal experiences through their life stories and creative works: resistance, pleasure, mortality, and the hope for a better tomorrow.

Season 8 showcases the geography, architecture, society, culture, and heritage of each location, highlighting aspects of contemporary life that viewers everywhere experience. The season features 16 artists, each of whom actively participate in global conversations about the pressing issues of our time: from terrorism to environmental crises to the struggle for civil rights. Emmy Award-winning actress Claire Danes joins the series as host, introducing each of the four episodes, and the motivations and concerns most pressing for the artists in each city.

Included in the new season are Natalia Almada, Edgar Arceneaux, Nick Cave, Minerva Cuevas, Stan Douglas, Theaster Gates, Brian Jungen, Barbara Kasten, Liz Larner, Tala Madani, Liz Magor, Damián Ortega, Pedro Reyes, Diana Thater, Jeff Wall, and Chris Ware.

Season 7   2014

Providing unique access to some of the most compelling artists of our time, Season 7 features a dozen artists from the United States, Europe, and Latin America, transporting viewers to artistic projects across the country and around the world. In locations as diverse as a Bronx public housing project, a military testing facility in the Nevada desert, a jazz festival in Sweden, and an activist neighborhood in Mexico, the artists reveal intimate and personal insights into their lives and creative processes. Season 7 artists create socially and politically engaged art, draw upon the influence of family and youthful experiences, and experiment with both form and medium.

Included in the season are Tania Bruguera, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Leonardo Drew, Omer Fast, Katharina Grosse, Thomas Hirschhorn, Elliott Hundley, Graciela Iturbide, Joan Jonas, Wolfgang Laib, Trevor Paglen, and Arlene Shechet.

Season 6   2012

Timely and timeless, global and local, beautiful and provocative, contemporary art challenges us to look at our world in new ways. Contemporary artists grapple with the complex issues of our time, ask tough questions, and make works that delight, amaze and sometimes unsettle audiences worldwide.

Season 6 includes 13 profiles of artists from five continents. Spanning the globe from Nigeria to New York City, from Beijing to Brazil, the episodes reveal the artists at work and speaking in their own words as they demonstrate the power of art to alter perception, challenge convention, and change how we see the world around us.

Included in the season are artists Marina Abramović, Ai Weiwei, David Altmejd, El Anatsui, assume vivid astro focus, Lynda Benglis, Rackstraw Downes, Glenn Ligon, Robert Mangold, Catherine Opie, Mary Reid Kelley, Sarah Sze, and Tabaimo.

Season 5   2009

Season 5, the series’ most international season to date, provides viewers with a unique look at the lives and work of contemporary artists, revealing the artists’ perspectives and showcasing their working processes and studios. Art21 traveled around the world in Season 5, filming the creation of new art on every continent except Antarctica, and in museums, studios, galleries and homes in nine countries.

Fourteen internationally recognized artists, from painters and sculptors to photographers and filmmakers exploring the possibilities of new media, were filmed in their own environments and in their own words. The result is an exceptional opportunity for audiences to experience first-hand the complex artistic processes behind some of today’s most intriguing and thought-provoking art.

Included in the season are artists John Baldessari, Cao Fei, Mary Heilmann, William Kentridge, Kimsooja, Jeff Koons, Florian Maier-Aichen, Paul McCarthy, Allan McCollum, Julie Mehretu, Doris Salcedo, Cindy Sherman, Yinka Shonibare MBE (RA), and Carrie Mae Weems.

Season 4   2007

Season 4 reveals the inspiration, vision and techniques behind the creative works of 17 contemporary artists. Art21 travels across the country and abroad to film painters, sculptors, photographers, and filmmakers in their own spaces and in their own words. Viewers are invited behind-the-scenes to see artists at work in their studios, homes, communities, and in sites as diverse as an old-growth forest near Seattle, a military base in California, a theater academy in Warsaw, and a film set, in addition to galleries and museums. The artists profiled speak directly to the audience, describing their passions, impulses and methods.

Included in the season are artists Robert Adams, Allora & Calzadilla, Mark Bradford, Mark Dion, Jenny Holzer, Pierre Huyghe, Alfredo Jaar, An-My Lê, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Judy Pfaff, Lari Pittman, Robert Ryman, Laurie Simmons, Nancy Spero, Catherine Sullivan, and Ursula von Rydingsvard.

Season 3   2005

What goes on inside the minds of today’s most dynamic visual artists? How do they make the leap between insight and finished object? What inspires artists to break through the barriers of convention to arrive at new ways of seeing? These and other intriguing questions are explored in Season 3.

Creating art is a complex process; sometimes deliberate, sometimes serendipitous, always rigorous. This season, Art21 travels from São Paulo to Boston, from Berlin to Houston, to film 16 working artists and to open up the intimate spaces where they flourish. For the first time in the show’s history, Art21 commissioned original video artwork from artist collaborators Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler to conclude each episode in Season 3.

Included in the season are artists Laylah Ali, Ida Applebroog, Cai Guo-Qiang, Ellen Gallagher, Arturo Herrera, Oliver Herring, Roni Horn, Hubbard/Birchler, Mike Kelley, Josiah McElheny, Matthew Ritchie, Susan Rothenberg, Jessica Stockholder, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Richard Tuttle, Fred Wilson, and Krzysztof Wodiczko.

Season 2   2003

Contemporary art breaks out of the confines of museums and art galleries in Season 2. Shattering the myth of the artist as an isolated genius, this season introduces television audiences to 16 artists working in America today. Season 2 uses the medium of film to provide an experience of the visual arts that goes far beyond a gallery visit. Intimate footage allows the viewer to observe the artists at work, watch their process, and learn how they grapple with the challenges of achieving their artistic visions.

Included in the season are artists Eleanor Antin, Janine Antoni, Charles Atlas, Vija Celmins, Walton Ford, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Tim Hawkinson, Elizabeth Murray, Gabriel Orozco, Raymond Pettibon, Paul Pfeiffer, Martin Puryear, Collier Schorr, Kiki Smith, Do Ho Suh, and Kara Walker.

Season 1   2001

At the dawn of the 21st century, American artists are taking self-expression and the artistic process into uncharted territory. Today’s artists are engaging the world and their audiences in vital and surprising new ways. They use an enormous variety of media and draw on sources ranging from pop culture and politics to ethnic heritage, classical models, and deeply personal life experiences. Season 1 features 21 artists that represent a cross-section of contemporary art practices and philosophies, and hail from different regions of the United States.

Included in the season are artists Matthew Barney, Louise Bourgeois, Michael Ray Charles, Mel Chin, John Feodorov, Ann Hamilton, Margaret Kilgallen, Beryl Korot, Barbara Kruger, Maya Lin, Sally Mann, Kerry James Marshall, Barry McGee, Bruce Nauman, Pepón Osorio, Richard Serra, Shahzia Sikander, James Turrell, William Wegman, and Andrea Zittel.