05 May 2021
x Art Podcasts We are Listening to Right Now
We explore six of our favourite contemporary art podcasts to listen to right now, to keep you inspired and engaged.
This week, why not delve into our list of contemporary art podcast favourites to keep you inspired and engaged. The audial world of contemporary and historical art reveals a vibrant selection of culture and art podcasts brimming with ideas. Allow yourself to be transported into the art world from the comfort of your own home. From the personal anecdotes of ‘Talk Art’, the intriguing academic study of ‘Arts & Ideas’, to the celebration of female artists in ‘Bow Down: Women in Art’, each podcast will allow you to learn as you listen.
This week, we explore six of our favourite contemporary art podcasts which include Katy Hessell’s podcast ‘The Great Women Artists’, BBC’s ‘Only Artists’ and Russell Tovey and Robert Diament’s ‘Talk Art’, to name just a few.
The Great Women Artists
Presented by art historian and curator Katy Hessel, ‘The Great Women Artists Podcast’ is mostly made up of interviews. As well as interviewing artists on their careers, as the host she delves into the curatorial realms of the art world. Writers and general art lovers most often appear in her podcasts. Above all, Hessel takes listeners on an audial journey by exploring female artists through the eyes of these speakers. Hessel focuses on the untold stories of women artists, in short who are often overlooked in the art world by men.
Some of her podcasts of note include her recent discussion in April with acclaimed artist Julie Mehretu. Crucially, Mehretu revolutionised abstract painting during the 21st century through her use of all-encompassing and gestural paintings. Hessel has also spoken to artists such as Guerrilla Girls, the anonymous feminist artist group devoted to fighting sexism and racism within the art world. She talks to contemporary painter Somaya Critchlow, known for painting powerful depictions of female characters. Above all, Critchlow’s work often challenges and subverts cultural expectations of race, gender and power. Hessel also spoke to artist Maggi Hambling in 2019, discussing her portraits and extensive career making work to provoke reaction.
Talk Art Podcast
Actor Russell Tovey and gallerist Robert Diament host ‘Talk Art’. Without a doubt, the energetic and free-thinking podcast looks at the work of artists, curators and gallerists. As well as this, they often discuss art with members of other industries such as journalism and the acting and music industry. Listen to their chatty conversations with a diverse variety of different artists, ranging from painters, sculptors, installation and performance artists. Above all, ‘Talk Art’ makes art accessible to all in their down to earth discussions.
In April, they spoke to legendary British artist Dame Rachel Whiteread, most often known for her ghosty replicas of rooms and spaces. We listen in on their visit to Whiteread’s studio, exploring her artistic past and her love of casting. As well as this, they have spoken to artists such as Lindsey Mendick, who makes autobiographical ceramics. In light of her large scale and vibrant installation at Tate Britain, they spoke to artist Chila Kumari Singh Burman. With attention to her Tate commission, they discuss the challenging stereotypical assumptions of Asian women in the art world and much more.
BBC Radio 4’s ‘Only Artists’ most often brings artists together in conversation on and around their creative careers and current work. The podcast acts almost as a platform for free-flowing conversation between artists. Without a presenter, ‘Only Artists’ allows for a diverse and ever-changing discussion which explores themes from multiple angles. Important to note, the title derives from a quote from art historian EH Gombrich’s ‘The Story of Art’. Gombrich states “there really is no such thing as art. There are only artists”.
Some of the discussions included in the body of work expressed in ‘Only Artists’ include writer Lavinia Greenlaw in conversation with artist Charles Avery. They delve into themes of isolation, protection and escapism to name a few. Another episode to explore is between artist Chantal Joffe and writer Olivia Laing. The pairing of a writer with an artist is most often one of curiosity, understanding and connection. Joffe and Laing discuss pressure and conformity within art-making and ugliness, amongst other themes.
Listen to the BBC Radio 4 podcast ‘Only Artists’.
BBC Arts & Ideas
‘BBC Arts & Ideas’ is not made up exclusively of art discussion, but also delves into the realms of philosophy, political and social discussion. However, each and every discussion is often led by artists in some form or seen through an artistic lens. Within the varied podcast, predominantly leading artists, thinkers and writers discuss the ideas that shape our lives. Through this, they establish links between the past and present as well as exploring contemporary academic research.
Recently, the podcast have focused on their New Generation Thinkers series. These include discussions on and around the subject of ‘New Generation Thinkers: A Norwegian Morality Tale’. Here, they discuss mental health in relation to the Norwegian Black metal scene of the 1990s. Comparatively, ‘Arts & Ideas’ also focus on the theme of ‘Pleasure’, looking at its background whilst mentioning historical artists and artworks. The discussion often includes professors, artists, writers and experts. They reveal and uncover hidden truths, both within history and the contemporary world.
Listen to the podcast ‘BBC Arts & Ideas’.
Bow Down: Women in Art
Hosted by editor of arts magazine Frieze Jennifer Higgie, ‘Bow Down: Women in Art’ focuses specifically on trailblazing female artists. In its format, Higgie dived into probing conversations without reservation with different guests about their chosen artist. The podcasts remains focused on overlooked but significant female artists of the past. With a focus on female artists, significantly Higgie invites an artists, writer, historian, or curator to nominate an artist to champion. Subsequently, the discussion delves into their past or current body of often radical work.
The most recent podcast presents a conversation between singer Lianne La Havas and presenter Higgie on the acclaimed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. They discuss the influence of Kahlo on the singer-song writer’s established career. For one podcast made in August 2020, the artist and activist Sonia Boyce discusses race, power and humour in the work of Adrian Piper. Piper was a Berlin based, radical philosopher and artist known for her photography.
Listen to Frieze’s podcast ‘Bown Down: Women in Art’.
‘Recording Artists’ acts as a platform to hear great historical artists speaking aloud. In particular, for this podcast from the Getty we explore artists and their lives through the Getty archives. They comparatively explore various questions through the conversations of various artists including Eva Hesse, Betye Saar and Yoko Ono. Most of the recordings took place during the 1960s and 1970s, in the midst of the civil rights movement and the feminist movement. The interviews are poignant, fiery and intriguing. We hear art critics, curators and thinkers aim to make sense of what it meant and still means to be an artist.
Using archival audio discussions, most often the host Helen Molesworth assesses six women artists, whilst their words guide our understanding. Visual artist and painter Artist Alice Neel speaks on the theme of motherhood. As well as this, American abstract and expressionist painter Helen Frankenthaler speaks on the anxiety of influence. Finally, assemblage artist Betye Saar talks about the discovery of uniqueness.