‘Being an Artist Is a Pursuit of a Feeling of Freedom’: Watch Avery Singer Combine the Digital and the Analog to Put Her Own Twist on Painting

As part of a collaboration with Art21, hear news-making artists describe their inspirations in their own words.

Production still from the Art21
Production still from the Art21 "New York Close Up" film, "Avery Singer's Next Painting." © Art21, Inc. 2017.

At the time of her “New York Close Up” interview for Art21 back in 2017, Avery Singer was an emerging star with a loyal following, maybe best known from her outing in the 2015 New Museum Triennial. In the short years since, her stock has dramatically risen. Today, it’s fair to say that now the 31-year-old painter, who was raised in New York City to painter parents who advised her not to become an artist, is one of the most in-demand of all contemporary painters.

Most recently, Singer had a turn in the international spotlight at the 2019 Venice Biennale exhibition, “May You Live in Interesting Times.” Curator Ralph Rugoff has said that her unique painting style appealed to him for the zeitgeist-defining event because he was looking for art that defied “the usual cookie-cutter type of thinking.” Singer’s hard-to-place imagery certainly fits that bill.

Her offbeat contemporary sensibility is evident in the Art21 video, where Singer describes how she combines gesso paint with digital techniques, including Google’s SketchUp software. The resulting works on canvas blur the lines between digital and analog, abstraction and figuration. “I don’t want to reproduce other people’s paintings,” she tells Art21. “I want to make my own.”


Watch the full segment, which originally appeared as part of the “Art in the Twenty-First Century” television series on PBS, below. “May You Live in Interesting Times” is on view at the Venice Biennale through November 24, 2019. 

This is an installment of “Art on Video,” a collaboration between artnet News and Art21 that brings you clips of newsmaking artists. A new season of the nonprofit Art21’s flagship Art in the Twenty-First Century television is available now on PBS. Watch full episodes and learn about the organization’s education programs at Art21.org.

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