The Archives today is THE research center dedicated to collecting, preserving, and providing access to primary sources that document the history of the visual arts in America. Their vast holdings—more than 20 million letters, diaries and scrapbooks of artists, dealers, and collectors; manuscripts of critics and scholars; business and financial records of museums, galleries, schools, and associations; photographs of art world figures and events; sketches and sketchbooks; rare printed material; film, audio and video recordings; and the largest collection of oral histories anywhere on the subject of art—are a vital resource to anyone interested in American culture over the past 200 years. So, basically, this site is a researcher’s bread and butter when it comes to artist interviews. Simply search artists by name and let the adventure begin.
Art21 is a nonprofit dedicated to engaging audiences with contemporary visual art, inspiring creative thinking, and educating a new generation about artists working today. 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, as well as through short-format documentary series, viewable on multiple online platforms. The filmed material in the Art21 Archive is supplemented with transcribed interviews, research materials, educational publications, Web pages, books, and digital and analog artwork reproductions.
The Artists Documentation Program (ADP) interviews artists and their close associates in order to gain a better understanding of their materials, working techniques, and intent for conservation of their works. Unlike programmed questionnaires that have been widely used by museums in the past, Carol Mancusi-Ungaro’s approach was designed to capture the artist’s attitude toward the aging of the art and those aspects of its preservation that are of paramount importance to the artist. Structured as a conversation between the artist and conservator, the intent was to document the current state of the work of art under discussion as well as the artist’s intonation and thought processes that lay behind his or her opinions. The tone and quality of content found in these interviews is unparalleled. (Note: you must create a free login to access the interviews.)
This unique tool has been created by and for International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art (INCCA) members, allowing access to each other’s unpublished information. The database contains metadata records (like library cards) that describe all types and formats of documents. Some examples are: artist interviews (transcripts, video, DVD etc), technical drawings, and installations instructions. Documents may even be notes taken during ‘ad hoc’ discussions with artists, such as telephone conversations or during exhibition installations. Each record includes keywords and an abstract as well as information on how to obtain the document. Different members may create records concerning the same artist resulting in a virtual artist archive. (Note: you must be an INCCA member to login, view, and contribute to this database.)
Featuring in-depth discussions between top artists and artnet’s own specialists, and filmed on location at galleries, studios, and in artists’ homes, this new video series offers an exclusive and candid look at the artists’ processes and inspirations. Conversation topics also include artist biography and art market trends. Featuring artists such as Tim Rollins, K.O.S, Wangechi Mutu, Andres Serrano, Mariko Mori, and others.
Long before podcasts and YouTube, artist William (Bill) Furlong was among the first to see the potential for this portable audio format in recording artists in their own words and making their voices available to an international audience. Initiated by Furlong in 1972, Audio Arts was conceived of as an audio magazine, recorded and distributed on cassettes. It documented the contemporary art world through artists’ and art professionals’ voices as well as sound works and performances, from 1973 to 2004. Now available via Tate.org, the recordings include many of the most notable artists of the late twentieth century, including Andy Warhol surrounded by London journalists in 1986, or Marcel Duchamp talking about readymades, as well as contributions form artists ranging from Marina Abramovic, Carl Andre, Joseph Beuys, and John Cage, to Michael Craig-Martin, Tracey Emin, Gilbert & George, and Damien Hirst.
Founded in 2005 by Duncan MacKenzie, Richard Holland, and Amanda Browder, Bad at Sports (B@S) now features over 20 principal collaborators and is a weekly podcast, a series of objects, events, and a daily blog produced in Chicago, San Francisco, Detroit and New York City that features artists and art worlders talking about art and the community that makes, reviews and participates in it. Interviewees include Kerry James Marshall, Dread Scott, Janet Cardiff, Janine Antoni and more.
Barbara London Calling is a podcast series featuring conversations with pioneering and up-and-coming artists from around the world. Together with the artists, London explores what motivates and inspires these artists, what technologies they use in their unusually varied practices, and how they see the world as artists working at the forefront of technology and creativity. A few of the artists are featured in London’s book, Video/Art: The First Fifty Years; several are also included in “Seeing Sound,” an exhibition she organized, which tours in 2021 under the auspices of Independent Curators International (ICI), the nonprofit based in Manhattan.
Hosted by Harriet Salmon, Craftsmanship is a podcast that discusses technical skill in the contemporary art world as told through the oral history of fabricators. Fabricators can be found in foundries, darkrooms, woodshops and laboratories in roles ranging from master printmaker to studio assistant. They are part of the unseen mechanism of the contemporary art world and their skills produce objects essential to a global art economy, a market currently estimated to generate over $60 billion dollars in annual sales. This podcast aims to document fabricator’s experiences to shine a light on the amazing breadth of talent in the field and to capture this particular moment in the art world.
The Conversation is a podcast ostensibly about the world of contemporary art, and features conversations with artists, collectors, curators and dealers. Michael Shaw, an artist based in L.A., launched the show in November, 2011, inspired by the podcast medium and its more performance-like approach to conversation, as opposed to traditional interview q-&-a’s.
Cultural Conversations is a project from the Australian Centre for Oral History that promotes cross cultural exchange by building a living archive of the stories of Australia’s and South Korea’s eminent visual artists. All interviews are available in English and the interviews with Korean artists are also available in Korean.
In 2007, Lidia and Alexander Rossner established d.movies.net, an online platform aimed at the research, documentation, and presentation of artistic practice. The resulting films, based on over 100 interviews with artists and curators, encompass documenta12, the 53rd Venice Biennale, and projects with other various artists, including Ai Wei Wei, Ann Hamilton, and others.
This is a great online art documentary project started and run by artists Christopher Joy and Zachary Keeting. The duo visits artists like Tom Burkhardt and Alexi Worth in their studios and records the ensuing conversation, resulting in interviews that are relaxed, anecdotal, and image-centered. Also, if there is a particular artist you would like to recommend or that you feel deserves their attention, they take requests via email!
As part of the GCI’s Art in LA initiative, the Artist Dialogues video series engages artists in conversations exploring their art, materials, fabrication processes and working methods, as well as their thoughts on conservation. Using Los Angeles as a microcosm of contemporary art, these Dialogues aim to capture artists’ overarching philosophy and attitudes towards materiality, process, concept, longevity, legacy, and conservation. Artists include Larry Bell, Helen Pashgian, Analia Saban, De Wain Valentine, and more.
The Hirshhorn Artist Interview Program is a collaborative initiative among Hirshhorn conservators, curators, and other staff to engage in a series of preservation-focused dialogues with artists about their works in the collection. The face-to-face interviews are generally conducted in front of the featured artworks or in the artists’ studios. In addition to addressing how the artworks are made, the interviews also explore which components or qualities are central to their meaning, thus requiring preservation. Video clips are accessible on the webpage and transcripts may be requested by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Institute of the 21st Century (i21c) is a public benefit arts initiative to stabilize and digitally archive the entirety of Hans Ulrich Obrist’s Interview Project. Initiated in 2010, the Institute was started in the spirit of historian Eric Hobsbawm’s call to “protest against forgetting” those who have forever changed the landscape of contemporary culture. Obrist’s invaluable discussions and interviews have been recorded over two decades on various electronic mediums; over 2,500 hours of recordings exist. Though not much is available on the site yet, i21c is currently in the process of digitizing the interview tapes, beginning with the earliest ones most in danger of being lost.
Tucked inside LACMA’s general website, under the “Video” category there are a number of artist interviews made on the occasion of an exhibition, museum visit, or just because. Featuring Ai Weiwei, Glenn Ligon, John Baldessari, Catherine Opie, and others.
Every year since 2012, The Laundromat Project invites its annually commissioned and resident artists to pair up and share “Creative Conversations” that may take a variety of formats: from animated video and email exchanges to rap lyric collage. This growing repository captures the voices and concerns of a diverse and multi-disciplinary set of artists making socially-engaged art in New York City, and beyond.
The Decker Library at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) has over 700 audiocassette tapes in its MICA Mades collection, including poetry readings, cultural discussions, and artist lectures from the 1960s to the 1990s. MICA recently announced that through its Digital Initiatives Unit over 80 of these recordings are now digitized and available online through the Internet Archive, many of which feature 20th-century artists discussing their work. Some of those included are photographer Gordon Parks, painter and printmaker Elizabeth Murray, color field painter Sam Gilliam, portraitist Alice Neel, landscape and domestic scene painter Fairfield Porter, abstract painter Ad Reinhardt, social realist Ben Shahn, and collaborative duo Gilbert and George.
This independent production of Modern Art Notes Media is a weekly podcast featuring artists, curators, art historians and authors and is produced/hosted by Tyler Green. The archive is a veritable treasure trove of insightful interviews and conversations, with recent focus on Robert Smithson, Sedrick Huckaby, Carrie Mae Weems, and 15th Century Renaissance masters.
The Museum of Modern Art Archives has long recognized the value of oral history as a fundamental way to capture gaps in the written record, preserve the firsthand recollections of the individual in his or her own voice, and enrich the work of scholars and curators. Their newly launched website provides an impressive listing of the over 100 oral histories that the Archives has created since 1990, as well as video clips, transcripts, and other relevant information. The site is a wonderful jumping-off point; researchers can consult the complete collection of the Museum’s oral history transcripts in the Archives.
Artists’ Lives was initiated in 1990 by National Life Stories, the charitable trust based in the oral history section of the British Library, in partnership with Tate Archive and is run in close collaboration with the Henry Moore Institute. Its aim is to enable British artists to create a record of their experiences in their own words to complement, enlarge and sometimes challenge accounts by other commentators. Artists’ Lives also includes interviews with curators, dealers and critics whose life stories have helped to build a more complete picture of the art world and its interwoven relationships.
The OAC is a website that provides free public access to detailed descriptions of primary source collections (artwork, manuscripts, papers, historic photographs, and so on) maintained by more than 200 libraries, special collections, archives, historical societies, and museums throughout California. Highlights include a series of 75 interviews conducted by Phyllis Tuchman, Harold Szeemann papers documenting his nearly 5 decades as a groundbreaking curator, Guerrilla Girls Records (1973-2003), and many more.
What was it like to be a woman making art as the feminist and civil rights movements were transforming American society? In the first season of Recording Artists, a new podcast from the Getty, host Helen Molesworth uses archival interviews to explore the lives of six women artists—Alice Neel, Lee Krasner, Betye Saar, Helen Frankenthaler, Yoko Ono, and Eva Hesse. Molesworth also speaks with contemporary artists and art historians to make sense of what it meant—and still means—to be a woman and an artist.
The multimedia section of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s website is chock full of oral history interviews and short film clips featuring artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Mark di Suvero, Cindy Sherman, and Chuck Close. From the ten excerpts of interviews with past Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art (SECA) Award winners to numerous smart and insightful glimpses into the lives and artistic processes of art scene superstars, this online archive seems to have a little bit of everything.
The Talks is a weekly updated online interview magazine founded in 2011 by Sven Schumann and Johannes Bonke. Every week The Talks publishes an interview and portrait with a leading creative voice of our times, a curated selection with personalities from the fields of art, film, fashion, music, and sports. In the arts section, one can find interviews with Anish Kapoor, Larry Clark, Marina Abramovic, Thomas Demand, and others.
The “Explore Stories” section of the Tang Teaching Museum’s website includes text and video interviews are between curators and artists, conservators and artists, as well as students and artists; some feature artists talking about their own work while others are artists discussing work by others that inspired or influenced them. The site currently includes interviews with Ann Pibal, Wendy Red Star, Tim Rollins, and K.O.S. With the recent relaunch of the collections website, the Museum will be regularly adding new interviews to this page.
Created by conservator Ruth del Fresno-Guillem, TestimoniArt works directly with young and emerging artists to document the artist’s intent, conducting interviews in Spanish and English that can later serve as documentation for art institutions and collectors. The database of interviews is continually growing, and contains conversations with Coco Guzman, Ana Pastor, Enrique Ferre, and others.
UbuWeb is a completely independent resource dedicated to all strains of the avant-garde, ethnopoetics, and outsider arts. As a self-proclaimed site “filled with the detritus and ephemera of great artists,” Ubu is a veritable labyrinth of, well, everything relating to the arts, including video and audio recordings and written transcripts of many interviews you’d be unlikely to find anywhere else.
V-ideo is a site created in partnership with the Mohile Parikh Center for the Visual Arts, Mumbai, that features seven short videos on a number of artists. Each video deals with a different topic addressed through two or three questions. V-IDEO presents the worldviews of artists, critics, and others in the art world, and offers diverse reflections on art and life that create a rich and multifaceted picture of the world. While all visitors can see the introduction and artworks videos of every artist, the remaining videos are available for a subscription fee.
Founded at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) in 1976 at the inception of the media arts movement, the Video Data Bank (VDB) is a leading resource in the United States for video by and about contemporary artists. The VDB Collection includes the work of more than 550 artists and 5,500 video art titles.
Hidden within the Walker Art Center’s website are a number of short but interesting interviews done with artists such as Cindy Sherman, Alex Olson, and collaborative duo Allora & Calzadilla, completed in conjunction with specific projects or past shows.