If you caught the excellent Independent Lens season opener HERB AND DOROTHY, you discovered a couple whose life was consumed with the beauty and joy of experiencing and collecting contemporary art. Herb and Dorothy Vogel are a husband and wife of modest means who need art in their lives the way most of us need food and water. What was particularly lovely about the film was its focus on profiling the couple, and not necessarily the artists and art itself.
A completely satisfying work, it made me want to go out and collect some art. It had me thinking about what passions my wife and I share. It also reminded me that I really ought to hang up that piece of folk art I bought in the summer.
If the film left me wanting to know more about anything, it was the myriad of artists mentioned that I wasn’t familiar with. Who are they, and what’s their process?
That’s where the excellent public television series ART IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY comes in. Now in its fifth season, the series travels all over the world to profile contemporary artists in their element as they create and discuss their work.
Together with the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and its “Films at the Frist” series, we’re happy to bring you free screenings of this series over two consecutive Fridays, October 23 and 30, at 6:30 p.m. Two episodes will be shown each night, each constructed around a theme that functions as a thread that loosely connects the artists: “Compassion,” “Fantasy,” “Transformation” and “Systems.”
Season Five includes 14 of today’s most accomplished artists as they create works that reflect important and timely global issues. The artists span five continents and include such legendary figures as Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, John Baldessari, Carrie Mae Weems and William Kentridge.
There’s an excellent companion site, with a complete list of all the artists profiled, at pbs.org/art21
Now, 99.9 percent of the people who read this blog can’t afford to collect art by any of the artists mentioned above, but perhaps the Art: 21 films will inspire you, and like Herb and Dorothy Vogel, you’ll catch the next generation of great artists while they’re on their way up. When’s the next art crawl?
And speaking of Herb and Dorothy, and the Frist Center, if you missed the film when it aired on NPT, you’re in luck. The film is screening as a prelude of sorts to the Nashville Jewish Film Festival on Sunday, November 1, 3:00 p.m. at the Frist.