The art of listening: five art podcasts to tune in to

Featuring artist interviews and discussions on the intersections of art, politics and technology, these radio shows are worth a listen

Tune in to some of the best art podcasts
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While museums and galleries worldwide have temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, you can still turn to the internet to talk and think about art. The idea of art podcasts may seem strange – how can such a visual medium be appreciated through audio? – but there are quirky and insightful shows out there that feature artist interviews, engage in critical dialogue and delve into art history to keep the cultural and the curious entertained.

Here are some of the best:

A Piece of Work

Created in collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art, the podcast is hosted by comedienne and actress Abbi Jacobson, who wields her wit and humour to talk about art in a fun, accessible way. Most of the 10 episodes in the series branch off from central works in MoMA's collection, such as Yves Klein's Blue Monochrome and Sol LeWitt's drawings, and goes on to explore the bigger art movements related to them.

Jacobson, who is half of the duo behind the hit show Broad City, also brings in guests such as comedian Hannibal Buress and musician Ahmir Thompson, or Questlove, of The Roots to hear their perspectives on art. She also frequently features curators from MoMA to share in-depth analysis of artists and their works.

Tea with Culture

Launched by Wael Hattar and Hind Mezaina, Tea with Culture is the place to go for dialogue on the UAE's arts and culture scene. Its inventory is broad – there are artist interviews with Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Ala Younis and Shaikha Al Mazrou; film discussions; and conversations about cultural institutions in the country such as Sharjah Art Foundation, Jameel Arts Centre and Tashkeel.

The podcast, which is now in its fifth year, offers cultural practitioners in the UAE an opportunity to critique, discuss and listen to new ideas.

Momus: The Podcast

Through this podcast, you can listen in on some of the most intelligent and thoughtful conversations on topics such as "What makes great art?" featuring artists, curators and writers. Run by the online magazine Momus and hosted by Sky Goodden and Lauren Wetmore, the show demands listeners to pay attention and think critically about culture and everything it touches, from politics to technology, and the media to exhibition-making.

Some of their standout episodes include a conversation with Jarrett Earnest, who talks about building an audience for art criticism and the importance of storytelling, and an episode on Venice Biennale that questions the event’s relevance to young contemporary artists.

Tate Podcasts

Tate in the UK, which has had to close its doors due to the Covid-19 outbreak, has been producing informative and captivating podcast episodes for the past couple of years. Though their scheduling can be quite intermittent, the series remains highly relevant by bringing fresh, artistic perspectives on some of life's most common questions – What is love? How can we turn failure into success? Where does inspiration come from?

With 23 episodes timed at an average of less than 30 minutes each, you can breeze through the archive rather quickly. Guests include artists, poets and musicians such as Kara Walker, Vanessa Kisuule and Bumi Thomas.

99% Invisible

Though its topics are more on design and architecture rather than art, the radio show is one of best explorations of the overlooked details that shape our world. Take for example the episode The Secret Lives of Colour, which examines the histories of shades such as red and purple, and how they came to symbolise and evoke certain feelings in certain cultures. In another episode, Their Dark Materials, the show talks about the darkest colour in the world – Vantablack – and how artist Anish Kapoor approached the company that created it to license the colour.

Hosted by Roman Mars, 99% Invisible also features a running miniseries, Mini Stories, or short audio reports compiled in volumes. If you want something quick, these narratives of only a few minutes are packed with quirky, little-known facts.