38 episodes

A weekly podcast that brings the biggest stories in the art world down to earth. Go inside the newsroom of the art industry's most-read media outlet, artnet News, for an in-depth view of what matters most in museums, the market, and much more. 

The Art Angle Artnet News

    • Visual Arts
    • 4.7, 74 Ratings

A weekly podcast that brings the biggest stories in the art world down to earth. Go inside the newsroom of the art industry's most-read media outlet, artnet News, for an in-depth view of what matters most in museums, the market, and much more. 

    How Hank Willis Thomas Is Making Politics an Art Form

    How Hank Willis Thomas Is Making Politics an Art Form

    Hank Willis Thomas is a busy man. The 44-year-old photographer, sculptor, filmmaker, and writer was already a force within the rarefied world of visual art before he decided to embrace politics on a large scale. But during the landmark presidential race of 2016, Thomas and fellow artist Eric Gottesman co-founded an "anti-partisan" political action committee called For Freedoms to empower artists to channel their creative energy into civic engagement. Along with facilitating major public artworks such as murals and artist-designed billboards, For Freedoms has since grown into a larger nonprofit organization that has held townhall meetings, organized voter-registration drives, and even assembled its own multi-day national Congress in Los Angeles. Not bad for a side hustle.
    The son of renowned art historian and photographer Deborah Willis, Thomas first rose to prominence for his early photography, which used the visual language of advertising to address systemic injustices such as the exploitation of professional athletes, the scourge of mass incarceration, and the original sin of American slavery. Years before the latest wave of activists began toppling statues of Christopher Columbus, Robert E. Lee, and other problematic figures in US history, Thomas also began questioning the validity of such monuments with his own large-scale sculptures, often creating alternatives to honor the individuals whose sacrifices have been overlooked by mainstream historical narratives.
    Thomas once said that his personal experiences prompted him to create art that could "change the world in a more intentional way," and now more than ever, he is doing just that. Through July 16, he and his Los Angeles gallery, Kayne Griffin Corcoran, are teaming with Artnet Auctions to present "Bid for Peace," a single-lot sale of Thomas's striking sculpture Peace (2019). All proceeds from the auction including the buyer's premium will be donated to G.L.I.T.S, Gays and Lesbians Living in a Transgender Society, a non-profit organization that protects the rights of transgender sex workers.
    A few days before the opening of "Bid for Peace," Thomas joined Andrew Goldstein on the Art Angle to discuss the evolution of his studio practice, artists' importance to bringing about civic transformation, and whether you might someday see his own name on a ballot near you.

    • 31 min
    The Unsettling Truth Behind What Columbus Monuments Really Stand For

    The Unsettling Truth Behind What Columbus Monuments Really Stand For

    In cities across the world over the past month, activists have been taking aim at symbols of oppression in the form of monuments: splashing them with paint, tagging them with graffiti, and most importantly, tearing them down. Among the most targeted statues in the US are those of Christopher Columbus. While he is still portrayed in American elementary schools as a folkloric hero responsible for "discovering the New World," the grim facts behind the legend have recently led to Columbus monuments being toppled and trampled, tossed into bodies of water, and even beheaded.
    But there's much more to the story than a broad-strokes whitewashing of one colonialist's anti-Indigenous brutality. In an essay for Artnet News earlier this month, national art critic Ben Davis teased out the complexities of the Columbus myth by delving into the history of the monument towering over New York City's eponymous Columbus Circle. Built in the late 19th century as a concession to Italian immigrants subject to eerily familiar forms of racist violence, the monument shows how the Columbus myth helped ingrain white supremacy into the nation's foundation—and set the stage for unquantifiable injustices still afflicting the country today.
    On this week's episode of The Art Angle, Davis joins Andrew Goldstein to discuss the Columbus Circle statue's long history as a political pawn, its link to other monuments commemorating problematic historical figures, and what it all means for whether these symbols should be preserved or destroyed.

    • 30 min
    Meet the Smithsonian Curator Who Turns Protesters’ T-Shirts Into National Treasures

    Meet the Smithsonian Curator Who Turns Protesters’ T-Shirts Into National Treasures

    Although 2020 isn't even halfway done yet, the worldwide health crisis and the global uprising over civil rights already guarantee that this year will be one historians study forevermore. As challenging as it will be to sort through such monumental events in hindsight, some institutions and individuals are doing an even more difficult job: preserving this history as it happens.
    One person at the forefront of this effort is Aaron Bryant, a curator of photography, visual culture, and contemporary history at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. Bryant leads the institution's rapid-response collecting initiative, which seeks to secure the objects, images, and stories that will allow historians—and the public at large—to eventually make sense of the events that shaped American life in pivotal moments, including the tumultuous one we are living through right now.
    On this week's episode of the Art Angle, Bryant joins Andrew Goldstein to discuss the historical importance of everyday people, how t-shirts and rakes can capture the essence of a major protest, and how this year's upheaval is similar to—and different from—previous chapters in American history.

    • 30 min
    Why Artist Trevor Paglen Is Doing Everything He Can to Warn Humanity About Artificial Intelligence

    Why Artist Trevor Paglen Is Doing Everything He Can to Warn Humanity About Artificial Intelligence

    In fall 2019, a new app called ImageNet Roulette was introduced to the world with what seemed like a simple, fun premise: snap a selfie, upload it to a database, and wait a few seconds for machine learning to tell you what type of person you are. Maybe a "teacher," maybe a "pilot," maybe even just a "woman." Or maybe, as the app's creator warned, the labels the system tagged you with would be shockingly racist, misogynistic, or misanthropic. Frequently, the warning turned out to be prescient, and the app immediately went viral thanks to its penchant for slurs and provocative presumptions.
    Long since decommissioned, ImageNet Roulette was part of a larger initiative undertaken by artist Trevor Paglen and artificial intelligence researcher Kate Crawford to expose the latent biases coded into the massive data sets informing a growing number of A.I. systems. It was only the latest light that Paglen's work had shined onto the dark underbelly of our image-saturated, technology-mediated world. Even beyond his Ph.D. in geography and his MacArthur "Genius" grant, Paglen's resume is unique among his peers on blue-chip gallery rosters. He's photographically infiltrated CIA black sites, scuba-dived through labyrinths of undersea data cables, launched art into space, and collaborated with NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, all as a means of making innovative art that brings into focus the all-but-invisible power structures governing contemporary life.
    On this week's episode of The Art Angle, Paglen joins Andrew Goldstein by phone to discuss his adventurous career. Although the episode was recorded before George Floyd's murder sparked nationwide demonstrations for racial justice, Paglen's work is more timely than ever for its probing of surveillance, authoritarianism, and the ways both are being simultaneously empowered and cloaked by A.I.

    • 36 min
    Four Artists on the Front Lines of the George Floyd Protests

    Four Artists on the Front Lines of the George Floyd Protests

    As American citizens entered Memorial Day weekend this year, the nation was already in turmoil. Nearly 100,000 lives had been lost to a colossal public-health crisis, with a disproportionately high number of the victims being African American; tens of millions of people had filed for unemployment since mid-March; and many states central to the US economy remained largely locked down, with few solid indications of when they would resume anything resembling business as usual.
    Then, after a Minnesota deli owner accused George Floyd of buying cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill on Memorial Day itself, the four police officers who responded to the call suffocated Floyd on camera during his arrest—and the national conversation immediately pivoted to America's original and deadliest sin: institutional racism.
    Although Floyd's death has now become the centerpiece of perhaps the broadest-based US protest movement since the Vietnam War, the tensions between (mostly) white authorities and communities of color has been building for centuries. In fact, another unarmed black American, 26-year-old healthcare worker Breonna Taylor, was killed in her own bed by Louisville police just days before Floyd's murder. The fatalities offer fresh proof of the lethal discrimination that has shaped American history since its beginning. But they have also quickly shifted widespread concerns for safety from COVID-19 to widespread demands for justice and systemic change from police and all levels of government.
    On the first Friday of the demonstrations sparked by the Floyd tragedy, Artnet News's art and design editor Noor Brara sought out a wide variety of artists willing to share their stories from the protests (and beyond). By the following Monday morning, she had gathered personal accounts from 18 artists that ranged from the painful, to the terrifying, to the uplifting as they joined (or continued) in the movement for action.
    On this week's episode of the Art Angle, Brara brings four of those stories to our listeners, in their own words. Artists Ebony Brown, Candy Kerr, Marcus Leslie Singleton, and Darryl Westly—all black Americans—spoke to Artnet News about the devastating repetitions of history, the fatigue of trying to educate white America, and how their protest experiences shape their artistic practices.

    • 34 min
    The Rise and Fall of Anne Geddes, Queen of Baby Photography

    The Rise and Fall of Anne Geddes, Queen of Baby Photography

    Picture this: a doughy, apple-cheeked infant nestled in between the soft petals of a dew-kissed flower, sound asleep, like the start of a real-life fable. Almost everyone who conjures that mental image will do so using a nearly identical aesthetic—and whether you realize it or not, that's almost entirely because of the work of legendary baby photographer Anne Geddes.
    After her debut photography book, Down in the Garden, soared to number three on the New York Times Bestseller list in 1996, Geddes's wholesomely surreal infant images became inescapable. Oprah went on air to declare Down in the Garden the best coffee-table book she'd ever seen, and by late December 1997, Geddes's publishing partners had sold more than 1.8 billion (yes, with a "b") calendars and date books of her photography for the upcoming year. Her dizzying success soon spurred the artist to ramp up production, with a standard Geddes shoot requiring six-to-eight months of planning and a budget between $250,000 and $350,000. But who could blame her for going big? Geddes's empire of adorable infants seemed unstoppable.
    Cut to 2020, however, and the picture has changed dramatically—not just for Geddes, but for an entire creative economy driven by analog photography, print publishing, and the high barriers to entry formerly associated with both. Years after smartphones first began putting increasingly high-quality cameras in nearly everyone's pocket, and Instagram began providing masses of self-trained shutterbugs a free and wide-reaching distribution platform for their images, it's not hyperbole to say that the pillars on which Geddes built her career have crumbled. So what's the Queen of Baby Photography to do when her kingdom becomes unrecognizable?
    In this week's episode, Andrew Goldstein chats with Noor Brara, Artnet's art and design editor, about her recent profile of Geddes. Together, they discuss the artist's rise, fall, and reckoning with culture's digital evolution.

    • 24 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
74 Ratings

74 Ratings

MindoCamp1 ,

Mythologizing history thru monuments

Ben Davis did an excellent job analyzing the history of the Columbus monuments and revealing what is the problem with all the monuments glorifying historical moments and their political motivation. And I like his solution!

Gettefox ,

Great Topics & Excellent Reporting

During this pandemic podcasts have become my greatest source of pleasure/ information/ entertainment. It can be difficult to find podcasts that move swiftly and deliver good substance. The Art Angle consistently delivers on all counts. The most recent episode on Ann Geddes was nothing short of provocative and brilliant. Hugely recommend these weekly episodes. Well done.

Awwwwwh ,

Makes me feel like an insider

Love this podcast. It’s like listening to your smartest art friends have a fun conversation. It’s pretty much the most entertaining way to stay in the loop about art and culture.

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