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Tommy Hartung's Budget Guide to New York

October 21, 2011

What are the bare essentials an artist needs to live in New York? In this film, artist Tommy Hartung ventures out from his home and studio in Ridgewood, Queens to meet up with two friends—fellow artists Ronnie Bass and Georgia Sagri—in nearby Bushwick, Brooklyn. Along the way, Hartung chronicles his own path to becoming an artist: working as a cook out of high school, deciding to attend college to study art, and finding cost-effective places to live and make his work.

Taking the subway to Bass’s home and studio to play chess, Hartung describes his admittedly “cheapskate” social life—nights in with friends and whiskey, nights out at gallery openings. Making New York his home since the mid-2000s, Hartung shares how he’s developed a calculus for surviving and succeeding as an artist in the city.

More information and credits

Featuring scenes from Hartung’s A Short History of the Canon (2007), Bass’s Our Land (2006), and Sagri’s 100%ad (sleep cat) (2010).


Art21 New York Close Up Created & Produced by: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Editor: Joaquin Perez. Cinematography: Andrew David Watson. Key Grip: John Marton. Sound: Nicholas Lindner & Nick Ravich. Associate Producer: Ian Forster. Production Assistant: Paulina V. Ahlstrom, Don Edler & Maren Miller. Design & Graphics: Crux Studio & Open. Artwork: Ronnie Bass, Tommy Hartung & Georgia Sagri. Thanks: Ronnie Bass, Georgia Sagri. An Art21 Workshop Production. © Art21, Inc. 2011. All rights reserved.

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

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Interested in showing this film in an exhibition or public screening? To license this video please visit Licensing & Reproduction.

Tommy Hartung

Tommy Hartung was born in 1979 in Akron, Ohio, and lives and works in New York. Growing up on a farm in upstate New York, Hartung spent countless days alone in the woods, building forts and living in a world of his imagination—which he considers the beginning of his artistic practice. Continuing to build fantastical worlds in his adult work, Hartung combines stop-motion animation and self-produced videos with found footage and cheap consumer technologies; all of his production sets are built in his studio using found objects.

“Just to experience Manhattan and that kind of culture was really sort of shock and awe for me. It loosened me up a little bit, opened me up to the urban experience.”

Tommy Hartung