Artists on Television


Artists on TV

Almost from its inception, network television opened its doors to appearances by avant-garde artists. Beginning in the early 1950s, scores of local and national network programs featured interviews with or demonstrations by avant-garde artists. While modern art was sometimes the target of humor or derision—playing off its presumed inscrutability—it was often treated seriously by network and, later, public-television news programs. Still, although television embraced the avant-garde, it mimicked the art world in rarely representing women artists and artists of color.

(Above) installation view, Revolution of the Eye, Center for Art Design and Visual Culture, UMBC, September 2016. Monitor on left: designer Ray Eames. Projection on Right: journalist Aline Saarinen. Art: top, Alexander Calder, Star and Spiral on Red, c. 1971. Etching, aquatint, and pochoir in color with embossing on Arches paper. Publisher: Gallery Maeght, Paris. Private Collection; (bottom) Salvador Dali, “The Torment of Hypocrites – Inferno 23” (from the Divine Comedy), 1960. Wood engraving on Rives paper. Private Collection



Artists made extensive appearances on American television shows, such as this clip of Salvador Dalí in 1957 on the CBS hit game show, What’s My Line, CBS, January 27, 1957. Other artist appearances included:

WATCH: Ray Eames, Today Show, NBC, c. 1956

Marcel Duchamp, The Art Show that Shocked America, CBS, April 5, 1963

Ben Shahn, “Art in America,” March of Time, syndicated, 1953

Roy Lichtenstein, USA: Artists, WNET, March 8, 1966

Allan Kaprow, “What I Did on My Vacation,” Eye on New York, CBS, September 11, 1966

Alexander Calder, “Art in America,” March of Time, syndicated, 1953

WATCH: Black History: Lost, Stolen or Strayed, CBS, September 1968

George Segal, Eye on New York, CBS, May 25, 1964

Willem de Kooning, USA: Artists, WNET, July 19, 1966

WATCH: John Cage, “Water Walks,” I’ve Got a Secret, CBS, January 1960