PBS Announces New Season of Art21's ART IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY, Featuring Profile of Ai Weiwei

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-Begins April 13, 2012 on PBS-

PASADENA, CA, January 4, 2012--PBS announced today that ART IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY, the Peabody Award-winning biennial series that presents exclusive documentary profiles of the top contemporary artists working today, will return with a sixth season airing Fridays, April 13, 20, 27 and May 4, 2012, 9:00 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings). The premiere episode, “Change,” features a profile of Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist arrested by government officials last year. The segment includes one of the first on-camera interviews he gave after he was released from detention in June 2011. A clip from the interview can be found at series producer Art21’s website art21.org.

In addition to Ai Weiwei, artists featured in the sixth season are Marina Abramovic, David Altmejd, El Anatsui, assume vivid astro focus, Lynda Benglis, Rackstraw Downes, Glenn Ligon, Robert Mangold, Catherine Opie, Mary Reid Kelley, Sarah Sze, and Tabaimo

“For 10 years, ART IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY has given viewers a rare, inside look at contemporary art that you won’t find in any museum or gallery,” said John F. Wilson, senior vice president & chief TV programming executive.  “PBS viewers have the opportunity to hear the artists themselves discussing their creative process in their own words, and see them in their studios as they create works of art that have received critical acclaim the world over. We are very proud to present this kind of quality arts programming that can’t be found anywhere else on television.”

“Art21 has always presented contemporary art as a vital means of education, expression and communication,” said Susan Sollins, Executive Director of Art21.  “That Ai Weiwei’s work galvanized human rights activists in China, and worldwide, is a dramatic reminder of the power of artists to engage deeply with the challenges of our times. We are very proud to include him speaking to us from his Beijing studio in this sixth season of Art in the Twenty-First Century, and equally proud of the 100 artists who have participated to date in the series, each of whom serves as a powerful role model for creative thinking.”

The premiere episode of Season Six, “Change,” features Ai Weiwei, El Anatsui and Catherine Opie. The artists in this hour bear witness, in their work, to transformation—cultural, material, and aesthetic—and actively engage communities as collaborators and subjects.

“Boundaries,” airing April 20, features David Altmejd, Tabaimo, assume vivid astro focus, and Lynda Benglis.  The artists in this episode synthesize disparate aesthetic traditions, present taboo subject matter, discover innovative uses of media, and explore the shape-shifting potential of the human figure.

“History,” airing April 27, features Glenn Ligon, Mary Reid Kelley and Marina Abramovic. History is a theme woven throughout the work of these artists, who mine personal and collective narratives and play with historical events to explore and expose commonly held assumptions about historic “truth”, and reveal connections between past events and the lived present.

“Balance,” airing May 4, features Rackstraw Downes, Robert Mangold and Sarah Sze. Through sculpture, paintings, and installations, the artists in this hour grapple with equilibrium and disequilibrium as they create highly structured works that challenge conventional notions of perception and representation.

The sixth season of ART IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY will be available on DVD from ShopPBS.org or 800-PLAY-PBS, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Art in the Twenty-First Century Season Six was produced for PBS by the non-profit contemporary art organization Art21, Inc. Executive Producer and Curator: Susan Sollins; Series Producer: Eve Moros Ortega; Consulting Directors: Charles Atlas (Change, History) and Catherine Tatge (Balance, Boundaries); Editors: Lizzie Donahue (Change, History) and Mark Sutton (Balance, Boundaries); Cinematography: Robert Elfstrom, Joel Shapiro and Jarred Alterman

Major Underwriting for Season Six of Art in the Twenty-First Century was provided by: the National Endowment for the Arts, Agnes Gund, Bloomberg, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Broad Art Foundation, The Japan Foundation, and Toby Devan Lewis.

For more information and photos, go to pbs.org/pressroom.

About Art 21
Over the past decade, Art21 has established itself as the preeminent chronicler of contemporary art and artists through its Peabody Award-winning biennial television series, 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.  For more information, visit art21.org.

About PBS
PBS, with its nearly 360 member stations, offers all Americans — from every walk of life — the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches 124 million people through television and 20 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front-row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS’ premier children’s TV programming and its website, pbskids.org, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through PBS’ apps for mobile devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at pbs.org/pressroom or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.

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Carrie Johnson, PBS, cjohnson@pbs.org, 703-739-5129
Brian Moriarty, Izzy Forman, Gabriela Ubago; Dan Klores Communications, 212-685-4300