Art in the Twenty-First Century

Season 3

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.

Broadcast Episodes


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    The artists in Power challenge authority, oppression, and control. Each artist humanizes difficult issues by acting as a witness to violence, working to heal communities, or achieving a balance between constructive and destructive energies. Introduced by actor and comedian, David Alan Grier, Power is shot on location in New York, New York; Washington, D.C.; São Paolo, Brazil; North Adams, Massachusetts; Williamstown, Massachusetts; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Boston, Massachusetts; Hiroshima, Japan; Tijuana, Mexico; and Austin, Texas.

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    Whether critical, irreverent, or introspective, the artists in Memory delve into personal memory and the past, transforming them in their work. The artists wrestle with complex topics such as the veracity of history, the nature of interpretation, subjective versus objective truth, and the ways in which objects and images from the past embody cultural memory. Introduced by actor Isabella Rossellini, Memory is shot on location in Galisteo, New Mexico; Los Angeles, California; Paris, France; New York, New York; Chicago, Illinois; and Austin, Texas.

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    The artists in Structures create systems, shift contexts, and engage with perception, utilizing unconventional devices such as exhibitions within exhibitions and dramatic shifts in scale between microcosm and macrocosm. Introduced by actor Sam Waterston, Structures is shot on location in Akureyri, Iceland; London, England; New York, New York; Houston, Texas; North Adams, Massachussetts; São Paolo, Brazil; Newark, New Jersey; Göteborg, Sweden; Santa Fe, New Mexico; and Austin, Texas.

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    The artists in Play improvise games, draw inspiration from dance and music, and employ color, pattern, and movement to elicit delight. Indulging in process, these artists transform naïve impulses into critical statements about the nature of identity, creative expression, and pleasure. Introduced by Grant Hill, Play was shot on location in Brooklyn, New York; Berlin, Germany; Santiago de Compostela, Spain; New Haven, Connecticut; Houston, Texas; and Austin, Texas.