For Your Viewing Enjoyment

Portrait of Nam June Paik by Lim Young-kyun, 1981

When I’m tired of reading (and writing) art speak, there’s nothing I enjoy more than watching it acted out on television. In all seriousness though, if the remote control is at hand, there are some decent arts shows out there for viewers.

There is an entire channel devoted to the arts, Ovation TV. Art or Not is the show they run incessantly, but it is fairly entertaining because they highlight “artists" (tattoo artists turned surf board designers; portraitists who create likenesses out of yard sale finds) and interview several panelists to see if their work is indeed art. I’ve also caught several documentaries on modern artists like Rauschenberg and Warhol, and that kind of primary footage is never boring, no matter how it is packaged. They are also covering artists that are working now, like Takashi Murakami and Sophie Calle.

Art:21 on PBS is another gem. Though it is a mini-series, this year was the show’s fourth season and it was nicely put together. The contrast of an artist’s work, seen in situ, and the artist’s explication of that work is really powerful. Art history students will be forever grateful for this kind of source material, as opposed to tracking down details in crumbly books only found in dark corners of esoteric libraries.

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