MTV Art Breaks

April 12, 2014

The generation that grew up during the 80s and the 90s have been losing faith in MTV, since it became a platform for endless, tasteless reality shows rather than a music channel over the past decade. But it’s so heartwarming and nice when our favorite TV station from teenage period surprises us with high quality program dedicated to something other than airheadedness.

MTV Art Breaks
MTV x MoMA PS1 x Creative Time

MTV teamed up with MoMA PS1 organization and Creative Time in 2012 to produce a video series featuring rising video artists. The series entitled Art Breaks was born and it was dedicated to honoring MTV’s legacy of working with progressive art luminaries such as Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Richard Prince, Kenny Scharf and Doug Aitken. Ten videos have been produced so far, representing visions of young contemporaries namely Mickalene Thomas, Rashaad Newsome, Tala Madani, Mads Lynnerup and Jani Ruscica at first, with recent additions by Guido van der Werve, Andrew Kuo, Cody Critcheloe, Divya Mehra and Sema Bekirovic.

Art Breaks Old and New

The series includes vintage videos by Basquiat, Haring and Prince, along with the newly created work by contemporary creatives.

The original Art Breaks series was produced by MTV in 1985, consisting of 30 second promotional videos, which pushed contemporary art and artists. These short clips were on the verge of video art and artist commercial, filled with vanguard imagery diverting from mainstream. The new Art Breaks is a crossover between time travel to when Basquiat was alive and prolific, and today, when he and his colleagues from over 20 years ago are perceived as legends.

New videos mix current pop culture and individual artists’ inspirations with references to the era of disco, film noir, and early hip-hop, revealing an even higher level of experiment than perhaps the original videos had. We are still to see whether the new generation of artists will rise to the same level as their predecessors and role-models.


In the end, it’s important to emphasize that MTV still has time, means and ideas to recover from trash reality shows and offer something smart youth and adults want and crave to see. Let’s be optimistic and see the new Art Breaks as the invite to new kids to leave spray tans and selfies behind and pick up spray paint and cameras to make something interesting and worthwhile.

Art Breaks project was inaugurated in 2012 and it’s still going strong with more videos being added periodically.


MoMA PS1 is a nonprofit contemporary art institution founded in the early 1970s, dedicated to exhibiting rather than collecting. It serves as a confluence of new ideas and trends in contemporary art, pursuing new talent, genres and avant garde work supporting the innovation in creative thinking.

Creative Time

Creative Time has been an active intermediary in the past forty years, commissioning and presenting great public art projects globally. The organization is led by core values that art is important, the artist’s vision is important in terms of social consciousness and that public spaces are meant to be stage for free expression.

MoMA Art Breaks from Amy Messacar on Vimeo.

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