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12 Movies About Art & Artists You Should See

Art Lovers | 17 January 2020

Yes the title of this article does say 12 Movies About Art & Artists You Should See, but like art, movies can also be subjective and what one person likes, another may hate. Having said that, these are 12 movies, in no particular order, I have seen and would highly recommend you make some time to see. So put a couple hours aside, put your feet up and please give them a chance.

1. Frida

Starring: Salma Hayek & Alfred Molina Directed by: Julie Taymor

Image result for frida movie

Frida – 2002

This is the true story of Frida Kahlo (Salma Hayek) and her husband Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina), the larger-than-life painters who became the most acclaimed artists in Mexican history, and whose tempestuous love affair, landmark journeys to America, and outrageous personalities made them legendary.


2. The Cool School

Narrated by: Jeff Bridges  Directed by: Morgan Neville

The Cool School by Jeff Bridges

The Cool School is an abject lesson in how to build an art scene from scratch and what to avoid in the process. The film focuses on the seminal Ferus Gallery, which groomed the LA art scene from a loose band of idealistic beatniks into a coterie of competitive, often brilliant artists, including Ed Kienholz, Ed Ruscha, Craig Kauffman, Wallace Berman, Ed Moses and Robert Irwin. The Ferus also served as launching point for New York imports, Andy Warhol (hosting his first Soup Can show), Jasper Johns, and Roy Lichtenstein, as well as leading to the first Pop Art show and Marcel Duchamp’s first retrospective. What was lost and gained is tied up in a complex web of egos, passions, money, and art. This is how LA came of age.


3. Final Portrait

Starring: Geoffrey Rush & Armie Hammer Directed by: Stanley Tucci

Final Portrait – 2017 

In Paris 1964, famed painter Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush) bumps into his old friend James Lord (Armie Hammer), the American critic, and asks him to be a model for his latest portrait in his studio for a couple of days. Flattered by the request, Lord complies and as the days turn into weeks and so on, he realizes his entire life has been wasted by this erratic genius. The men’s time together jumps between joy and frustration, as we witness the chaotic genius of Giacometti as he completes one of his last masterpieces.


4. I Shot Andy Warhol

Starring: Lili Taylor, Stephen Dorff & Jared Harris Directed by:  Mary Harron


I Shot Andy Warhol – 1996 

Valerie Solanas (Lili Taylor) is an aspiring writer who moves to New York City where she meets controversial artist Andy Warhol (Jared Harris) and a host of other eccentrics in the New York art scene. While a book publisher wants Valerie to write a novel, Valerie sets out to convince Warhol to produce her play “Up Your Ass.” Based on a true story, the film follows Valerie’s journey from ambitious author to obsessed, delusional assassin.


5. Pollock

Starring: Ed Harris, Marcia Gay Harden & Jennifer Connelly Directed by: Ed Harris

Pollock – 2000

The film is a look back into the life of an extraordinary man, a man who has fittingly been called “an artist dedicated to concealment, a celebrity who nobody knew.” As he struggled with self-doubt, engaging in a lonely tug-of-war between needing to express himself and wanting to shut the world out, Pollock began a downward spiral.


6. Banksy Does New York

Directed by: Chris Moukarbel

Banksy Does New York – 2014

On Oct. 1, 2013, the elusive British street artist known as Banksy launched a self-proclaimed month-long residency in New York City, posting one unique exhibit a day in an unannounced location, sparking a 31-day scavenger hunt both online and on the streets for Banksy’s work.
Capturing this month of madness, Banksy Does New York incorporates user-generated content, from YouTube videos to Instagram photos, from New Yorkers and Banksy hunters alike, whose responses became part of the work itself, for an exhilarating, detailed account of the uproar created by the mysterious artist.


7. Loving Vincent

Starring: Robert Gulaczyk, Douglas Booth, Chris O’Dowd & Saoirse Ronan  Directed by: Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman

Image result for loving vincent

Loving Vincent – 2017 

Loving Vincent is a biographical, animated film about the life of painter Vincent van Gogh, and in particular, the circumstances of his death. It is the first fully painted animated feature film. Each of the film’s 65,000 frames is an oil painting on canvas, using the same technique as Van Gogh, created by a team of 115 painters.


8. Basquiat

Starring: Jeffrey Wright, Gary Oldman, Benicio del Toro & David Bowie  Directed by: Julian Schnabel

Basquiat – 1996 

Despite living a life of extreme poverty in Brooklyn, graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (Jeffrey Wright) strives to rise up through the heady New York art scene of the 1970s and 1980s. He becomes the brightest star of neo-Expressionist painting and one of the most successful painters of his time, and even develops a friendship with Andy Warhol (David Bowie). But Basquiat’s tumultuous life, specifically his addiction to heroin, overshadows his rise to fame, threatening all.


9. Whiteley

Directed by: James Bogle

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Whiteley – 2017 

Whiteley is a visual journey into the private life and creative legacy of Australia’s most iconic artist, Brett Whiteley, told “in his own words” using personal letters, notebooks and photographs, interwoven with reconstructions, animations, archival interviews and rare footage.


10. Girl With A Pearl Earring

Starring:  Scarlett Johansson, Colin Firth, Cillian Murphy & Tom Wilkinson  Directed by: Peter Webber

Girl With A Pearl Earring – 2003

When her father goes blind, Griet (Scarlett Johansson) must go to work as a maid for painter Johannes Vermeer (Colin Firth). While cleaning the house, Griet strikes up an unlikely friendship with Vermeer, which both agree to keep secret for fear of provoking the painter’s jealous wife, Catharina (Essie Davis). When wealthy patron Van Ruijven (Tom Wilkinson) begins to lust after Griet, and commissions a painting of her, Vermeer and Griet are obliged to spend long hours alone together.


11. Crumb

Directed by: Terry Zwigoff

Crumb – 1994

Filmmaker Terry Zwigoff creates a complex but affectionate portrait of his longtime friend, underground cartoonist Robert Crumb. A notorious curmudgeon who would prefer to be alone with his fellow cartoonist wife Aline Kominsky-Crumb and his beloved vintage jazz records, Crumb reveals himself to be a complicated personality who suffered a troubled upbringing and harbors a philosophical opposition to the 1960s hippie underground that first celebrated his work.


12. Big Eyes

Starring: Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz  Directed by: Tim Burton

Big Eyes – 2014 

In the late 1950s and early ’60s, artist Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz) achieves unbelievable fame and success with portraits of saucer-eyed waifs. However, no one realizes that his wife, Margaret (Amy Adams), is the real painter behind the brush. Although Margaret is horrified to learn that Walter is passing off her work as his own, she is too meek to protest too loudly.


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