Art in the Twenty-First Century

Season 8

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 8 premiered in September 2016 on PBS.

Broadcast Episodes


  • 55:16
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    In small and tightly-knit Vancouver, artists reframe the world through a series of sophisticated illusions. By recreating historical moments, staging photos of vernacular scenes, and crafting intricate sculptures that trick the eye, artists reveal how everyday images and moments from the past are not always what they seem.

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    How does the city of Chicago inspire the artists who live there? How is the architecture, history, and character of the city interpreted and reflected in the work of Chicago-based artists? Which parts of the city are most moving and motivational?

    In this episode, artists reveal the ways in which their communities ignite ideas for photographs, sculptures, and drawings, and how those communities are invited by the artists to become part of the artworks themselves.

  • 55:18
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    While sprawling Los Angeles has world-class museums and art schools, artists working in the shadow of the entertainment industry are more “under the radar,” affording them the space and time to imagine.

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    In this episode, artists exit their homes and studios to use the growing megalopolis as their canvas. The artists present everyday materials as artworks, mine recognizable images for their poetic potential, and take their art to the streets.

A look at this week’s art news, including Jeff Koons’s work entering augmented reality, and events and exhibitions from Tampa to Basel.

The Season 8 Educators' Guide and Screening Guide are available as free downloadable resources to accompany the new broadcast season. Find these and other resources for educators in the Tools for Teaching area of this site.