Art on screen
Whether I’m at home watching my favourite sci-fi films while balancing dinner on my lap, heading out with friends to open-air screenings in the summer time or moseying off to a matinee on a quiet Sunday afternoon, not much makes me happier than a well-made flick. Which is why, after re-watching Basquiat recently, I went on a bit of a bender trying to find more movies about art and artists. From what I’ve seen, movies about art tend to be pretty good. For one thing, they often have pretty interesting cinematography and a rich mis-en-scene. Also, because artists so often live crazy, dramatic and otherwise unusual lives, these movies have pretty absorbing stories and zero in on fascinating sub-cultures and points in history.
I’ve still got a bunch of movies about art on my list I need to see, but I’ve compiled a list of my Top 7 so far. Here they are:
Top 7 movies about art
- Pollock – this highly acclaimed film starring Ed Harris as Jackson Pollock and Marcia Gay Harden as Lee Krasner is an absolute must-watch for fans of this artist and those interested in the machinations of the creative process. Tense and absorbing.
- Caravaggio – one of those movies about art often found in first year cinema studies courses. Beautifully shot in a painterly style reminiscent of Caravaggio’s work, it’s a film some will find difficult to watch, while others may be mesmerised.
- I Shot Andy Warhol – more about Valerie Solanas, the radical feminist who famously shot Andy Warhol, than the artist himself, this film captures the feel of those heady Factory days and boasts an incredible performance from Lily Taylor as Solanas.
- Basquiat – a wonderfully entertaining film which examines the New York art scene at a truly interesting time. It also has a terrific lead performance from Jeffrey Wright and appearances by real life icons Dennis Hopper and David Bowie.
- Love is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon – dark, disturbing, imaginative; the tone of this biopic suits its subject perfectly. Powerful performances from Derek Jacobi as Bacon and Daniel Craig as his petty criminal lover George Dyer will stay with you.
- Frida – if you weren’t already a little in love with Salma Hayek before seeing this film, you will be by the end of it. Funny, dramatic and tragic by turns, this movie about art and artists is a feast for the eyes and soul.
- Crumb – this documentary is about the rude, crude, hilarious and talented comic book artist Robert Crumb. Directed by long term friend Terry Zwigoff, this doco is both uncomfortable and insightful and casts light on the craziness so often found behind creativity.