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The Top 6 Movies About Painters

posted by Kevin Lannister

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“I love you more than my own skin and even though you don’t love me the same way, you love me anyways, don’t you? And if you don’t, I’ll always have the hope that you do, and I’m satisfied with that. Love me a little. I adore you.”
Frida Kahlo

“Abstract painting is abstract. It confronts you. There was a reviewer a while back who wrote that my pictures didn’t have any beginning or any end. He didn’t mean it as a compliment, but it was.”

-Jackson Pollock

“I was a really lousy artist as a kid. Too abstract expressionist; or I’d draw a big ram’s head, really messy. I’d never win painting contests. I remember losing to a guy who did a perfect Spiderman.”

-Jean-Michel Basquiat

I read in an article that movies associated with fine arts are usually not too interesting. But is that true? Obviously, the definition of the concept “interesting” is far too subjective. But! Should a movie about fine arts necessarily be “INTERESTing”? The word “interesting” is derived from “interest”, which is basically an egoistic notion. What is my interest, right?

Art – including fine art too – is fundamentally against individual interests, or in any case, it is independent of interests, stands outside of circles of interests. Now some people will surely accuse me with naivety and idealism, and perhaps they are right, but art provides an insight into something miraculous.

It’s something bigger than us: say the spontaneous manifestation of the supernatural (if it is appropriate to put it so simply). So “uninteresting” does not necessarily have to mean boring! I say nothing new when I declare the indisputable relation between film and painting in terms of visuality.

But this relation is one-sided since films are able to portray paintings, but paintings can not reveal movies. Let’s now investigate the top 6 movies about painters of all time:


6. Frida (Julie Taymor, 2002)

Frida Kahlo was undeniably one of the most remarkable artists of the twentieth century, who could not be just plugged in into some categories. She was the sheer embodiment of the true artist, who was always a thorn in the eye of those people who wanted to know what it takes to be a true drawer.

Best painter movies 1She succeeded to get to the middle of the canon of the universal fine art and to divert herself from the exotic Mexican freak stereotype. Frida‘s dominance as an artist in the man-centered early 20th century was already a notable achievement.

Her talent did not remain unnoticed, she becharmed the leading personalities of the surrealist movement in Paris, which was then the center of the art world. Her artistic approach was “tooindividualistic for joining the group, so she rejected André Breton‘s offer to join the unconventional bunch.

Salma Hayek‘s performance is definitely the highlight of her career. The movie depicts authentically the artist’s visual buoyancy and the fiery, restless political atmosphere of the era.


5. The Draughtsman’s Contract (Peter Greenaway, 1982)

The Draughtman’s Contract is one of the most famous movies of Peter Greenaway, which he directed relatively late, in 1982. As always, he uses a lot of reference to the fine arts in this potpourri of black comedies and thrillers; he likes to investigate the relation between reality and art.

And he does authentically since he functioned as an artist for twenty years before committing himself to the cinematic art. His movies are highly elaborated in terms of visuality. A rich lady charges Mr. Neville, the high-blown artist with the creation of twelve drawings, but Mr. Neville, but he does not offer his services in a casual way: the women has to satisfy all his sexual desires during the twelve days of his work.

The movie -which is by the way full with references to Rembrandt and Caravaggio- takes an interesting turn when the artist discovers the traces of a murder on the graphics depicting the estate. As a matter of fact, the Draughtman’s  Contract is the investigation of the relation between reality and the work of art, which is destined for the imaging of reality, composed through the eyes of a baroque painter.


4. Exit Through the Gift Shop, 2010

We know Jean-Michel Basquiat as one of the first pioneers of graffiti art, this overlooked form of expression. He was living as a tramp on the streets of New York, he painted the streets with his spray, then he sent graffiti into the skies, becoming the favorite of the most praised galleries.

Street art is the part of the official canon, which is a bit controversial since the basic conception of this genre was actually anti-institutionalism and “art is for everyone”. The movie examines this strange contradiction.

Banksy meets a strange French shopkeeper who is an amateur filmmaker at the same time. An idea enters his mind: he wants to make a documentary movie about Banksy’s life, but the latter is not really enthusiastic about the idea since his art is forbidden. But finally, the camera was turned toward the artist.


3. Shirley: Visions of Reality, 2013

Edward Hopper was the most prominent figure of American painting before the II. World War. His art did not really meet the standards of the era since it depicted street scenes, empty spaces, and spaciousness. He had an undeniable effect on other artists and filmmakers, we just need to watch a few Jim Jarmusch or Terrence Malick movie and we will see the relation.

This movie vivifies 13 paintings of Edward Hopper which unwraps the story of a charming lady. Shirley is an attractive and charismatic actress and her personal story reveals a special era of the USA. Gustav Deutsch‘s movie approaches Edward Hopper’s figure in a unique way: it does not tell his life story but represents his paintings. His paintings are utilized one-by-one as the setting of a scene, making them work as an animation.


2. Pollock (2000)

The USA can be really grateful to Jackson Pollock since he was the one who actually made the country of stars and stripes nameable on the global fine art scene with the abstract expressionism. Abstract expressionism’s purpose was the extinguishment of the picture’s meaning with depicting rather an emotional state instead of a concrete thing. His drip painting style made available the expression of intensive inner tensions.

Jackson Pollock struggles with low self-esteem and alcohol problems, but one day he meets Lee Krasner, the talented New York artist, who selflessly takes him under his wing, thereby sacrificing her own career.  Pollock becomes more and more famous, but the couple becomes alienated from big city life, thus they move to the country. Pollock finds his peace of mind here, discovering his true style, but his volatile nature makes the tragic anagnorisis inevitable.


1. Basquiat (1996)

Besides Bansky, Jean-Michel Basquiat was the other king of graffiti. He lived n the ghetto of the 80’s and found himself suddenly in the cream of the American art  scene. This black guy really made his fortune and developed a really fresh, exciting approach to art. He was the guy who succeeded to create high art from banal and prosaical objects and themes.

Obviously, the scuzzy suburban locations made a big influence on Basquiat’s vision. Unfortunately, like so many of his colleagues, he also ran into the relentless trap of drugs and sex. Julian Schnabel, the director was an insider in these circles, so the movie is authentic and enjoyable. David Bowie makes the movie  particularly interesting in the role of Andy Warhol. That’s the best. When stars are playing stars.

Thank you for reading our article about the top 6 movies about painters. We hope you enjoyed this article as well as our previous ones. Do not hesitate to prepare yourself for the next frenzied experience!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin Lannister (see all articles)

Hello, I'm Kevin. If you like my articles, please subscribe to my notifications emails.

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