Art in the Twenty-First Century

Season 1

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.

Broadcast Episodes


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    “Too often those who are quickest to assert their identity or loudest in proclaiming it have fastened on a single, supposedly fixed aspect of their nature or background to the detriment of the rest,” writes Robert Storr in an essay for the Art in the Twenty-First Century Companion Book. “Whatever the reasons for them, the work of the artists discussed here demonstrate the error and the futility of such ostensibly self-protective but in actuality self-restrictive measures.”

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    “All of these artists reference the other kinds of images we are familiar with,” writes Katy Siegel in her essay for the Art in the Twenty-First Century Companion Book. “We spend our whole lives training to understand movies and television and video games and clothes and beds and houses. And so contemporary art often invokes these experiences and objects; art often looks like a commodity, because in a consumer culture, nothing could be more essential.”

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    “America is a country made of places,” writes curator Thelma Golden for the Art in the Twenty-First Century companion book, “not just the places marked by road signs and maps, but also the less tangible but no less meaningful places forged in the crucible of memory, longing and desire.” Place is shot on location in New York, New York; San Francisco, California; Lexington, Virginia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Bilbao, Spain.

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    “Spirituality is such a vibrant and integral part of our lives that even our changing times and all the apparent obstacles have not stifled the powerful partnership of spirituality and art in the modern era,” writes Lynn M. Herbert in her essay for the Companion Book to the Art in the Twenty-First Century series. “The realm of the spiritual is mysterious and inviting,” writes Herbert, “It is a place where we are encouraged to explore the unknown.”