"Art making is a form of alchemy, in a way, because you are trying…to make gold from nothing. When it works very well is when you manage to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary."
Over the past decade, ART21 has established itself as the preeminent chronicler of contemporary art and artists through its Peabody Award-winning, PBS-broadcast television series, ART21 Art in the Twenty-First Century. The nonprofit organization has used the power of digital media to introduce millions of people of all ages to contemporary art and artists and has created a new paradigm for teaching and learning about the creative process.
Mission & Vision
ART21 is a nonprofit contemporary art organization dedicated to introducing broad public audiences to today’s visual artists—stimulating critical reflection as well as conversation through the production of films, publications, digital resources, and educational programs.
ART21 programs inspire creative thinking and educate: a new generation about contemporary art and art making; teachers about how to engage students with the art of their time; the public at large about the life of the creative mind.
In addition to its flagship PBS-broadcast series, ART21 Art in the Twenty-First Century, ART21 produces short-format documentary series, viewable on multiple digital platforms.
The ART21 Exclusive series presents new perspectives on the artists featured in the Art in the Twenty-First Century series. The ART21 New York Close Up series provides an intimate look at artists in the first decade of their professional career, living and working in New York City. The ART21 Artist to Artist series features artists in conversation with their peers in shared exhibition settings.
ART21's first feature film, ART21 William Kentridge: Anything Is Possible, premiered in national primetime on PBS in October 2010. This one-hour film received a Peabody Award in March 2011 and has been broadcast internationally since its premiere.
The ART21 Michael C. Sandler Education Program engages audiences in dialogue about contemporary art and the artists featured in ART21 films. ART21's educational initiatives include the ART21 Educators learning community, the production of interpretive resources, professional development workshops and lectures, and participatory programs and screening events.
ART21 serves educators and their students by providing free materials and programs devoted to the exploration of contemporary art and artists, including a widely distributed series of educators' and screening guides.
ART21 also presents a wide range of writing on contemporary art. Drawing connections between ART21-featured artists and the larger context in which they thrive, the ART21 Magazine chronicles this landscape, post-by-post—from indexing daily events and activities to posing broader, meditative questions about the place of art in our world.
ART21's companion books present the featured artists through excerpts of interviews juxtaposed with rich, full-color illustrations of their work. The books also include introductory essays by ART21 Executive Producer and Curator, Susan Sollins, as well as artist biographies and production stills from the series.
ART21 Digital Programs
Digital channels serve as a primary means for disseminating much of ART21's programming. In addition to providing instant access to ART21's films and accompanying resources, ART21 uses digital platforms to further serve and engage with its audiences.
ART21 maintains a constant presence across social media platforms, providing opportunities for direct engagement with ART21 staff, featured artists, and projects, and offering extended perspectives on ART21 activities and resources. The ART21 social media presence—overseen by the organization's digital media department—includes platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Vine, and Pinterest.
The ART21 Translation Project is committed to making ART21 films accessible beyond English-speaking communities. The project brings together a community of volunteers to help transcribe and translate ART21 videos. Through the efforts of the translation community, the words of artists become more accessible to audiences across languages, as well as to viewers who are deaf and hard of hearing.
ART21's digital initiatives also include projects created in collaboration with artists. Previous projects include avaf + art21 comboworks (a special collaboration with artist collective assume vivid astro focus) and Twitter "takeovers" by artist Eleanor Antin.
ART21 maintains an extensive archive of all of the films and educational materials it produces. The core of the ART21 Archive is nearly one thousand hours of original documentary footage amassed during the production of ART21’s films. ART21 continues to film with previously featured artists, documenting art installations, exhibitions, and performances at galleries and museums worldwide. The ART21 Archive also includes film documentation of ART21’s education and public programs, including hundreds of hours of video by ART21 Educators participants. The filmed material in the ART21 Archive is supplemented with transcribed interviews, research materials, educational publications, Web pages, books, and digital and analog artwork reproductions.