55 minutes
R0 (PAL)


In what ways can art convey equilibrium or disequilibrium? What is reality? How do artists perceive and express it? Art21 documentary Balance explores these questions through the works of American artist Sarah Sze, English painter Rackstraw Downes, and American minimalist Robert Mangold.

Sarah Sze builds her installations and intricate sculptures from the minutiae of everyday life, imbuing mundane materials, marks, and processes with surprising significance.  Combining domestic detritus and office supplies into fantastical miniatures, Sze’s installations balance whimsy with ecological themes of interconnectivity and sustainability. On the edge between life and art, her work is alive with a mutable quality – as if anything could happen, or not.

Often painted in a panoramic format, Rackstraw Downes’ images evince careful attention to details as well as to broad expanses of their surroundings.  Downses’ compositions feature a variety of horizons that bend according to the way the eye naturally perceives.  Downes often works in series, examining single scenes from multiple angles, over time, and in the process reveals changing qualities of light and shadow as well as changes in his own point of view.  In this way, Downes does not think of himself as a landscape painter, but rather as a painter of his surroundings – his environment.

In contrast, Robert Mangold’s translates the most basic of formal elements, shape, line, and colour, into paintings, prints, and drawings whose simplicity of form expresses complex ideas.  While his focus on formal considerations may seem paramount, he also delights in thwarting those considerations – setting up problems for the viewer.  Over the course of years and in multiple series of shaped canvases that explore variations on rings, columns, trapezoids, arches, and crosses, he has also provoked viewers to consider the idea of paintings without centres.

Art21: Art in the 21st Century is an award-winning series of 24 programmes in which 100 contemporary artists explain their creations, their creative processes, and their perceptions of art. Available for the first time on DVD in the UK, Art21 covers a wide range of artists and contemporary visual art.


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