The Art Assignment

About The Art Assignment

The Art Assignment is a weekly PBS Digital Studios production hosted by curator Sarah Urist Green. We explore art and art history through the lens of things happening today.

Henri Rousseau The Dream 1910
Artist Henri Rousseau painted The Dream in 1910, and it's imagery of a woman lounging on a sofa in the jungle was as surreal then as it is today.

Why Is This Woman in the Jungle? ...

Maurizio Cattelan
Artist Maurizio Cattelan duct taped a banana to a wall. Why did it capture our attention, curiosity, and memes? What does it mean?

The $150,000 Banana

Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty, 1970, Rozel Point, Great Salt Lake, Utah (photograph taken June 2016)
Throughout history, art has helped reveal the climate around us and highlight our fragile relationship to it.

How Climate Changes Art

Jizō Bosatsu, late 12th–mid-13th century (Kamakura period), wood with lacquer, gold leaf, cutout gold foil decoration, and color, 181.6 x 72.4 x 57.4 cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Empathy is a term we hear a lot, but what does it mean and how does it work?

Art and empathy

Trending artists cover image
Have you heard of Italian Baroque artist Artemisia Gentilschi? Find out why her popularity, and that of other artists, has risen dramatically since the 1970s.

Trending artists

Folies Bergere Poster
You've likely seen this glassy-eyed late 19th Century barmaid before, but what can we make of this painting today?

Better Know: Manet’s Bar

Great Hall., Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Met Museum in New York is filled with masterpieces of human creativity, but is there a better way to organize what's inside?

Remake the Met

Courbet, The Artist's Studio, a real allegory summing up seven years of my artistic and moral life
What's the point of making realistic paintings when photography can do the trick?

The case for Realism

Warning sign about nudity
The nude has been celebrated but also censored. What's wrong with seeing the unclothed human body?

The case for nudity

Marina Abramović, Art Must Be Beautiful, Artist Must Be Beautiful (1975)
Should art be beautiful? Revisit ancient philosophers' thoughts on beauty and consider why we might be skeptical of beauty today.

Art must be beautiful

The Case for Copying thumbnail
Artists don’t just imitate the world around them—they copy each other, reworking old images and revising history.

The Case for Copying