Watch artists as they figure out their next big steps

Watch artists as they figure out their next big steps
Brian Zanisnik in "Brian Zanisnik’s Big Pivot." Photo: Art21.

Read below for a special dispatch from our friends at Art21.

For two decades, we at Art21 have provided intimate access to the works and words of today’s most innovative artists through the Peabody Award-winning PBS series “Art in the Twenty-First Century” and digital documentary projects like “New York Close Up” and “Extended Play.”

In the middle of this tough moment, we look to artists to show us how to push through the personal disruptions and creative challenges to find something meaningful on the other side.

Join us for a curated playlist of films — including our most recent video release — capturing the creative risks and unexpected pivots fundamental to an artist’s life.

Brian Zanisnik’s Big Pivot

Recently returning to New York City after several years of living in Sweden, artist and storyteller Bryan Zanisnik comically chronicles the highs and lows of life as a contemporary artist, discovering a love for mushroom foraging and the pleasures of painting along the way. Mirroring Zanisnik’s own tragic-comic style with a playful use of sound effects and archival footage, this portrait is a universal story of one artist’s quest for financial stability, creative joy and the best in Swedish pastry.

Jack Whitten: An Artist’s Life

Renowned abstract painter Jack Whitten narrates the personal and creative struggles that drove his work over the course of nearly six decades, tracing his relentless innovation in painting. In the late 1960s, Whitten built a tool he called the “developer,” using it to make fully abstract paintings in “one gesture [and] three seconds.” Filmed at work on what would become his final painting, he passed away shortly after this film was produced.

Marina Abramović: Singing Lesson

Internationally celebrated artist Marina Abramović prepares for her role in “The Life and Death of Marina Abramović,” an opera based on her own autobiography and yet another creative risk in a career defined by them. In the film, Abramović takes one of her first-ever singing lessons at the Manhattan studio of vocal coach Nora York, revealing her desire to become a better singer despite being told as a child that she “didn’t have an ear for music.”

Shahzia Sikander: “The Last Post”

Renowned for her slyly subversive takes on traditional miniature painting style, acclaimed artist Shahzia Sikander takes a creative leap into video animation, finding new possibilities for the narrative complexity of her paintings and large-scale installations.

Watch full episodes from every season of “Art in the Twenty-First Century” on ALL ARTS. Explore over 60 hours of film from Art21’s library on-demand at and 24/7 broadcast at

Top Image: Brian Zanisnik in "Brian Zanisnik’s Big Pivot." Photo: Art21.