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6 of the best podcasts about art and artists

the best podcasts about art and artists


6 of the best podcasts about art and artists

Jelena Sofronijevic from the EMPIRE LINES podcast brings us some recommendations for podcasts about art and artists…

Podcasts are a fantastic way to further connect with the subjects you are passionate about, and arts podcasts are no exception. Whether it’s giving you insights to artists and galleries, helping you experience a piece of work you can’t visit in person, or uncovering hidden histories of art movements, there is plenty to dig into.

The Great Women Artists’ Podcast

Katy Hessel’s podcast (and Instagram, and book) gives glowing introductions to the lives and practices of great artists. We get new, alternative insights into the lives of well-known women like Paula Rego and Yoko Ono; for others – like Ruth Asawa, Augusta Savage, and Suzanne Valadon – the podcast pushes back against their posthumous obscurity. Hessel also interviews contemporary artists practising today. Her interview with Marina Abramović is a highlight (you get to hear how she realises that Earth is the ‘Glasgow of the Universe’ in a planetarium) and required listening ahead of this autumn, when the artist will be the first woman to have a solo exhibition at the Royal Academy. Listen on your podcast app >>


This iHeartPodcasts show is a five minute daily dose, reinjecting women into the history books. Each episode focusses on an individual woman, grouped in series like ‘Dynamos’, ‘Mothers’, and ‘Ragers’ (with the help of some corporate sponsorship.) Broad in scope and subject, Womanica leans towards the US, covering from Lorraine O’Grady, Sister Mary Corita Kent to Carolee Schneeman – another performance artist, most recently on show at the Barbican. But the episode on Julia Margaret Cameron is a welcome introduction to the artist and photographer at the fore of Tate Britain’s rehang. Listen on your podcast app >>

Writers & Company

Eleanor Wachtel, presenter and co-founder of the Canadian radio programme Writers & Company, recently announced her retirement from the show after 33 years of broadcasting. The farewells bid to her by everyone from Salman Rushdie to Zadie Smith are a testament to her remarkable legacy – and give us an opportunity to go back into the archives. W&C is a deep dive into the the lives, thoughts and works of remarkable writers from around the world, including Bulgarian poet Kapka Kassabova, the multi-hyphenate Amit Chaudhuri, and artist William Kentridge. It considers the act of writing broadly, and delve as much into the guest’s history as the subject of the episode. The episode on the anachronism-filled 2022 film Corsage, Marie Kreutzer’s portrait of the nineteenth century icon, Empress Elisabeth of Austria, is a must-listen. Listen on your podcast app >>

Talk Art

More contemporary is Talk Art, presented by actor Russell Tovey and Margate-based gallerist Robert Diament. Promising to ‘make art accessible, non-academic, non-elitist, gossipy and fun’, each episode feels like a warm conversation with a friend – and we’re in good company, with the likes of Lindsey Mendick, Lubaina Himid, Sonia Boyce, and Ai Weiwei. Still, my favourites are those that platform younger, lesser-known artists, like Paula Siebra. Stepping into her studio in Brazil (by Zoom), we learn why she loves painting glass jars, hates any sort of technology, and paints to the sounds of Simon and Garfunkel. It’s wonderful to hear other young people so driven by their practice: ‘I have a lot of work to do, I’m not dying today’. Listen on your podcast app >>

Arts & Ideas

Say what you will about the BBC – though some formats and presenters are a little staid, it still produces some of the best researched arts, culture, and history content in the field. The BBC Radio 4 shows might get the most attention, but it’s Arts & Ideas (sometimes called Free Thinking) from BBC Radio 3 that makes the boldest leaps. Some episodes explore well-worn subjects from alternative perspectives, like why we love to hate the Pre-Raphaelites, and what such hatred says about us. The series features a wide range of speakers, from Tate Modern’s Nabila Abdel Nabi talking about Hilma af Klint and the occult, to curator Craig Clunas, on what connects Freud and Chinese sci-fi films, and Rana Mitter, on how Artemisia Gentileschi shaped art and advertising. With its multidisciplinary panel, the recent episode on decadence dives into the art movement’s Orientalist foundations from different perspectives – and how ‘art for art’s sake’ has its origins in the colonial anxieties of nineteenth-century France, which feared a falling birth rate with the rise of women’s rights, contraception, and so-called ‘sex for sex’s sake’. Listen on your podcast app >>


EMPIRE LINES uncovers the unexpected, often two-way flows of empires through individual artworks – from theatre to architecture, painting to film. In fifteen minutes, we focus on one object as an artefact of imperial exchange, using art to understand the how and why, and challenge simplistic, monolithic understandings of empires. Recorded on location in the latest exhibitions, EMPIRE LINES features fascinating interdisciplinary thinkers in the field, with contemporary artists like Nalini Malini and Ingrid Pollard, curators from The Courtauld to the COBRA Museum in the Netherlands, and the team behind Tate Modern’s Surrealism Beyond Borders. Listen on your podcast app >>

Jelena SofronijevicJelena Sofronijevic is an audio producer and freelance journalist, who creates content at the intersections of cultural and political history. They are the producer of EMPIRE LINES, a podcast that uncovers the unexpected flows of empires through art, and historicity, a new series of audio walking tours, exploring how cities got to be the way they are. Their full works in print, including museum and exhibition reviews, can be found here. Follow them @jelsofron.

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