"I still think the social function of art is that kind of negative aesthetic. Otherwise there’s no social function for it."
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 of “Art in the Twenty-First Century,” the only series on national public television to focus exclusively on contemporary art and the people who create it. Like the great biennial art exhibitions that regularly showcase current artistic activity, "Art in the Twenty-First Century" returns to television every two years to profile working artists who build our living culture with each painting, sculpture, photograph or installation that they create.
Creating art is a complex process; sometimes deliberate, sometimes serendipitous, always rigorous. "Art in the Twenty-First Century" takes viewers into the artists’ lives, unfiltered, for a rare encounter with the creative process in action and an exciting opportunity to hear what cutting-edge artists are thinking about as they work. 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. “It is difficult to imagine anyone who works harder than an artist,” says renowned curator Susan Sollins, who is executive producer of the series. “'Art in the Twenty-First Century' allows public television viewers to experience the passion, the focus and the compulsion that drives their creativity.”
As in previous seasons, each hour of "Art in the Twenty-First Century" is organized around a unifying theme that helps audiences analyze, compare, contrast, and juxtapose the artists profiled. “Power” explores issues of violence, domination and control that pervade contemporary society. “Memory” delves into how an artist’s personal background, as well as our shared historical past, emerge in artistic expression. “Structures” profiles artists who investigate context and order in the organization of their art. “Play” reveals artists who fearlessly tap improvisation and games, spontaneity and mundane objects, to make art that is simultaneously whimsical and profound.
Each of the programs is introduced by a celebrity host who is passionate and knowledgeable about contemporary art. This season, David Alan Grier, Isabella Rossellini, Sam Waterston and Grant Hill introduce the theme at the beginning of each hour.
Every day, contemporary artists ponder questions about life, society, philosophy, psychology, race, science, technology, memory, history—and the nature of art itself. Through an astonishing range of approaches, techniques and materials, they transform their ideas into art that explores the possibilities of creative thinking and self-expression. For many viewers, Season 3 of "Art in the Twenty-First Century" should challenge conventional notions of “the painter” or “the sculptor” who works in a single medium. A great many of the artists profiled are adept in numerous media, easily moving from one to the next as they experiment and search for the perfect form for expressing their visions.
Major underwriting for "Art in the Twenty-First Century" Season Three provided by: National Endowment for the Arts; Public Broadcasting Service; Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro; Nathan Cummings Foundation; Corporation for Public Broadcasting; Jon and Mary Shirley Foundation; Bagley Wright Fund; Bloomberg; The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; JPMorgan Chase; Melva Bucksbaum and Raymond Learsy; The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.