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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.”

More information and credits


Created by: Susan Sollins & Susan Dowling. Executive Producer & Curator: Susan Sollins. Executive Producer: Susan Dowling. Series Producer: Eve-Laure Moros Ortega. Associate Producer: Migs Wright. Production Coordinator: Laura Recht. Researcher: Quinn Latimer & Wesley Miller. Director: Deborah Shaffer. Editor: Amanda Zinoman. Director of Photography: Ken Kobland & Joel Shapiro. Additional Photography: Adam Larsen, Laura Recht, & Deborah Shaffer. Assistant Camera: Jarred Alterman, Steve Carrillo, Brian Hwang, Alan Pierce, Beth Puorro, & Kipjaz Savoie. Sound: Rick Albright, Stuart Deutsch, Andrew Garrison, Steven Robinson, Gary Silver, & Bill Wander. Gaffer/Grip: Ned Hallick, John Roche, & Wilson Waggoner. Production Assistant: Steve Carrillo, Courtney Harrell, & Kevin Tierney. Animation Stand Photographer: Marcos Levy & City Lights. Assistant Avid Editor: Matt Prinzig & Kate Schmitz.

Introductory Segment | Artwork: Barbara Kruger. Cast: John McEnroe.

Mel Chin Houston Segment | Director: James Harithas. Producer: Manuel Pellicer & Kathleen Pellicer. Director of Photography/Sound/Producer: Wes Sandel.

Devil’s Night Commercial | Director: Helen Nagge. Cast: Bubba Crutchfield. Director of Photography: Adam Larsen. Sound Recordist/Producer: Mikael Manoukian. Location Manager: Bob Sargent. Package Design: Erick Robel. Driver/Special Effects: Bob Bass.

Creative Consultant: Ed Sherin. Art Design and Direction: Open, New York. Animation, Visual Effects & Compositing: Spontaneous Combustion. On-Line Editor: Don Wyllie & Frame:Runner NYC. Composer: Peter Foley. Music Supervisor: John Yaffé. Sound Editing: Margaret Crimmins, Greg Smith, & Dog Bark Sound. Sound Mix: Tony Volante & Soundtrack, New York. Post-Production Supervisor: Michael Weingrad & Keir Randall.

Artworks courtesy of: Matthew Barney; Michael Ray Charles; Mel Chin; Andrea Zittel; Andrea Rosen Gallery; Frederieke Taylor Gallery; Barbara Gladstone; & Tony Shafrazi Gallery.

Special Thanks: Fareed Armaly; Art Car Museum; Anne C. Baker; Alison Beall; Jamie Bennett; William Bush; Dr. Rufus L. Chaney; Cincinatti Art Museum; City Lights; Susan Delson; David Ebner; Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum; Thomas G. Grace; Guggenheim Museum; Russell Hassell; John McEnroe Gallery; KNOWMAD Confederacy; Spike Lee; Bruce Mac Corkindale; Steve Malmberg, Queens Museum; Cara Mertes; Tom Miller; Margarita Moreno; Carter Mull; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Chris Pullman; Project Row House; Nick Robinson; Chelsea Romersa; Matt D. Ryle; Tamberelli Video; TenniSport; University of Texas, Austin; & Darin Webb.

Interns: Maytal Ahrony, Joyce Alcantara, Christina Darcy, Leslie Fritz, Johanna Goldfeld, Susannah Gust, Sage Lehman, Kelly McCoy, Genevieve Mercatante, Jeff Seelbach, & Stacy Wu.

Public Relations: Kelly & Salerno Communications. Legal Counsel: Albert Gottesman.

Major underwriting for Season 1 of Art in the Twenty-First Century is provided by Robert Lehman Foundation, PBS, National Endowment for the Arts, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro, The Allen Foundation for the Arts, The Broad Art Foundation, The Jon and Mary Shirley Foundation, Bagley Wright Fund, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, and The Foundation-to-Life.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Andrea Zittel

Andrea Zittel transforms everything necessary for life—such as eating, sleeping, bathing, and socializing—into artful experiments in living. Zittel’s A-Z West, a thirty-five acre residential and studio complex in the California high desert, is a testing ground for the artist’s innovative sculptures, installations, and design projects.

Barbara Kruger

Barbara Kruger was born in 1945 in Newark, New Jersey, and currently lives in New York and Los Angeles. She attended Syracuse University’s School of Visual Arts in 1964 and studied art and design at Parsons School of Design in New York in 1965. Kruger began her career as a graphic designer and picture editor at Conde Nast Publications, an experience that greatly impacted her artistic practice. Using the visual tropes, language, and design aesthetics of commercial advertising and magazines, the artist creates images and installations that reflect and critique the ways in which mass-media culture influences our beliefs at a societal and individual level.

Matthew Barney

Matthew Barney entered the art world after graduating from Yale in 1991 to almost instant controversy and success. He is best known as the producer and creator of the Cremaster films, a series of five visually extravagant works created out of sequence. The films generally feature Barney in myriad roles, including characters as diverse as a satyr, a magician, a ram, Harry Houdini, and even the infamous murderer Gary Gilmore. The films themselves are a grand mixture of history, autobiography, and mythology—an intensely private universe in which symbols and images are densely layered and interconnected. The resulting cosmology is both beautiful and complex.

Mel Chin

Mel Chin’s art is both analytical and poetic and evades easy classification. Alchemy, botany, and ecology are but a few of the disciplines that intersect in his work. He insinuates art into unlikely places, including destroyed homes, toxic landfills, and even popular television, investigating how art can provoke greater social awareness and responsibility. Unconventional and politically engaged, his projects also challenge the idea of the artist as the exclusive creative force behind an artwork.

Michael Ray Charles

Michael Ray Charles’s graphically styled paintings investigate racial stereotypes drawn from a history of American advertising, product packaging, billboards, radio jingles, and television commercials. Caricatures of African American experience, such as Aunt Jemima, are represented in Charles’s work as ordinary depictions of blackness, yet are stripped of the benign aura that lends them an often-unquestioned appearance of truth. In each of his paintings, notions of beauty, ugliness, nostalgia, and violence emerge and converge, reminding us that we cannot divorce ourselves from a past that has led us to where we are, who we have become, and how we are portrayed.

“We’re obsessed with perfection, we’re obsessed with innovation and moving forwards. But what we really want is the hope of some sort of a new and improved or better tomorrow.”

Andrea Zittel