Art in the Twenty-First Century

Season 2

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.

Broadcast Episodes


  • 53:40
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    Time is always present in our interaction with works of art, whether we sit to contemplate a painting, stroll past a sculpture, or watch a video piece for its entire duration or cycle. Some works of art are time-based in that the viewer must experience them through the passage of time, as with music, while others refer to time through links or references to art history, our collective human history, or the timelessness of nature. Filmed on location in China; Japan; New York, New York; San Antonio, Texas; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Los Angeles, California.

  • 53:40
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    The four artists profiled in Humor have been influenced by the history of humor and comedy, including vaudeville, cartoons, and comic books. The artists in this hour reveal how humor and satire can stimulate laughter as well as serve as a vehicle to explore serious subjects, such as feminism, the natural environment, the excesses of consumer culture, social injustice, and war. Filmed on location in San Diego, California; Hermosa Beach, California; New York, New York; and Great Barrington, New York.

  • 53:44
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    The artists profiled in Stories tell tales—autobiographical, fictional, satirical, or fantastical—through architecture, literature, mythology, fairytales, and history. These artists provoke us to think about our own stories, the characters and caricatures, the morals and messages that define our real and imagined lives. Filmed on location in São Paolo, Brazil; New York, New York; Saratoga Springs, New York; [foundry], New Jersey; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Seoul, South Korea; Seattle Washington; Houston, Texas; and Dallas, Texas.

  • 51:44
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    Thoughts and responses to themes of Loss & Desire surface in many areas of our lives, from the philosophical to the emotional. In this episode, specific works of art cause us to contemplate issues such as war and peace; the loss of community and the desire for connection; and the age-old human longing for perfection.

    Filmed on location in New York, New York; West Point, New York; Blair, New Jersey; Stuttgard, Germany; Paris, France; Mexico; and Santa Fe, New Mexico.