Film and Art and two things which everyone would agree are synonymous to each other, and that in everything piece of cinema contains artistic elements to it. So what happens when Art also becomes the main topic of the film? Well, wonderful things start to happen, that’s what. Films about Art and Artists can be one of the most intriguing and enlightening pieces of cinema, as they often make us question the fabric of our society. With the release of new film Exhibition, from acclaimed British Director Joanna Hogg, we have listed all of the Best Films about Artists for you. Aren’t you lucky?
The 1956 MGM film focuses around the life of notorious Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh (yes, the guy who allegedly cut off his own ear as he struggled with mental illness), based on the novel by Irving Stone. Kirk Douglas stars in the lead role as Van Gogh, and was nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal, which was truly well deserved. The acting from the supporting cast is also indeed magnificent, with Anthony Quinn actually winning an Academy Award for his role as Paul Gauguin. The tale is notably dark, and the film manages to adapt its source material appropriately and respectfully portray its main artist in suitable light. The writing and script are beautifully crafted and adapted by Norman Corwin (who was also unsurprisingly nominated for an Academy Award) and the whole piece marks itself as a truly great movie about Art and an influential Artist.
Six Degrees of Separation
1993 drama Six Degrees of Separation (adapted from the John Guare play of the same name) delved into the world of con artistry and indeed, Kandinsky, referencing his two artworks, ‘Black Lines’ and ‘Several Circles’ numerous times in the film, and also referring the former to chaos and the latter to control. Rather surprisingly, Will Smith starred in the film as Paul, the con-artist, who targets the wealthy Kittredge family, (Stockard Channing plays Ouisa Kittredge and Donald Sutherland portrays Flan Kittredge) as they are easy marks for his deception, with their love of art and the finer things in life. Smith shows off his acting prowess in the form of Paul, and his performance takes centre stage amongst the performances of his fellow co-stars (who are also wonderful, particularly Stockard Channing).
A striking biographical film on painter Jackson Pollock, Pollock graced screens with its presence in 2000 and starred Ed Harris as the infamous painter, Marcia Gay Harden as Lee Krasner, Jennifer Connelly as Ruth Kligman, Amy Madigan as Peggy Guggenheim and Bud Cort as Howard Putzel. True to its actors and actresses fine performances, Marcia Gay Harden won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as Pollock’s wife and Ed Harris was nominated for Best Actor, which would have been rightfully deserved. Harris dives into his role as the troubled painter, and although the film does fail to offer a satisfying glimpse into the painter as an individual, it masterfully depicts the entire creative process needed to produce such artworks.
The ever divine Salma Hayek heads up the 2002 film as the larger than life itself, surrealist painter Frida Kahlo. As is the given by now, Hayek was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of the artist, and the film won two Academy Awards for Best Make-up and Best Original Score. Depicting the professional and private life of the striking Artist, the film is suitably passionate, electrifying and interesting for even the most disengaged audience.
The Pillow Book
One of the most rich and artistic films there is, The Pillow Book (1996) is a beautifully dark modern drama with Vivian Wu (portraying Nagiko) starring as the Japanese model who desires to indulge in new pleasures and cultural experiences. Centring on body painting, the film also stars Ewan McGregor as Jerome, Nagiko’s favourite lover. The nature of the film is intimate and sensual, and the elegant and masterful acting propels the film to impressive status.