15 Representations of Art in Cinema

In the past few decades, art in Cinema has been more popular than ever and picking a great movie to watch about a brilliant artist is easier than ever. There has been a concerted effort by Hollywood to create content based on the lives of artists. As a great way to educate and spread the ideas of the artists in question, movies are a great way to learn more about your favorite artist. Here are some great examples of movies that have come out recently, all of which are a perfect example of what is possible in the retelling of the lives of giant figures.

Frida – Movie releases in 2002

As one of the most famous female artists to put paint to canvas, Selma Hayek’s portrayal of Frida Kahlo remains a masterpiece biography to this day. Made in 2002, this movie takes place along the entirety of Frida’s life, including her accident as a young woman and her complex relationship with Diego Rivera. Depicting the rise of her fame and the progression of her work, this movie is a perfect example of a daunting and interesting life put to the silver screen. She will always remain a vibrant and beautiful figure in the art world. Seen as a feminist masterpiece, this movie will endure the test of time and solidify itself in the realm of beautiful and relatable stories of art in Cinema.

Pollock – Movie about the life story of American painter Jackson Pollock (2000)

Art in Cinema - Pollock
Ed Harris as Jackson Pollock (2000)

Directed by and starring Ed Harris, this movie captures the tortured life of the abstract painter from his rise from the 1940’s to his tragic end in 1956. This movie from 2000 is a great entry into the man’s unique style and avant-garde productions and grips the viewer at every moment, fully fleshing out the life of a modern genius. Ed Harris presents one of his best acting moments in this piece of art in Cinema. The movie chronicles the difficulty and triumphs of Pollock’s career brilliantly. From its humble beginnings to its tragic end, this movie is a comprehensive and interesting look at one of the most enigmatic figures of the contemporary art world.

Achilles and the Tortoise – Great representation of Art in Cinema

Achilles and the Tortoise movie -Art in cinema
Achilles and the Tortoise – Takeshi Kitano as painter Machisu and his wife Sachiko (2008)

Starring famous Japanese actor/director Takeshi Kitano and made in 2008, this movie revolves around the life and struggles of Machisu, a Japanese painter, and his wife Sachiko. Machisu, no matter how much he tries, can never get the acclaim from the established artists that he desperately craves, but his art is vibrant and beautiful all the same. This critique of the art world, art in business, art in cinema showcases some of the hard truths about the business and really makes you question the nature and value of art itself. By watching this movie, you will gain a greater appreciation for the struggling artist.

Conversations with my Gardener – French movie (2007)

Conversations with my Gardener - French cinema
Conversations with my Gardener

This French film from 2007 depicts the life of a successful, yet weary, Parisian artist whose life is falling apart. He returns to the country to live in his childhood house in order to gain some peace and perspective, when he befriends a gardener who, as he finds out, was one of his school friends back in his youth. This movie tries to parse out why art is important in the first place – it’s the simple living of life which is reinforced by the movie, and one of the things that are continually ignored by our contemporary society. This masterpiece of French cinema grounds art back in the real world and is an enjoyable and relaxing journey through what really matters.

Factory Girl – Movie release in 2006

Factory Girl - Andy Warhol - Art in Cenema
Sienna Miller and Guy Pearce in Factory Girl

This 2006 film by George Hickenlooper and starring Guy Pearce, Hayden Christensen, and Sienna Miller chronicles the life of the socialite Edie Sedgwick, a woman who meets Andy Warhol and begins a tumultuous relationship with him. This movie is a brilliant portrayal of New York City in the mid-1960’s and really captures the atmosphere of the time, including what it must have been like living in the same orbit as Andy Warhol. The excesses of social life are on full display in this movie and the story of Andy Warhol and all his relationships endures to this day.

Vincent and Theo – Moive release 1990

Vincent and Theo - Masterpiece of Cinema
Tim Roth plays Vincent van Gogh in Vincent and Theo

Portrayed brilliantly by Tim Roth, this movie about Vincent van Gogh is tragic and a great way to gain insight into the artist’s troubled life. Created in 1990, Tim Roth and Paul Rhys play Vincent and Theo van Gogh and this movie accurately portrays the relationship of the brothers and their financial and artistic struggles. Told mostly from the perspective of Theo, the movie illustrates what it must have been like to live with such a difficult yet brilliant man in Vincent. A great depiction of one of the most beloved artists of our time, this movie is a great statement and representation of Art in Cinema.

Girl with a Pearl Earring – Movie about painter Johannes Vermeer

Masterpiece of cinema - Girl with a pearl earring
Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth as Johannes Vermeer

Starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth as Johannes Vermeer, this movie, created in 2003, takes place in 17th century Delft and builds a life for the enigmatic artist. In this movie, he is seen as a shy, pensive, and brooding figure that is always looking for the perfect subject – which he finds in Johansson. An interesting and unique glimpse into an artist we know very little about, the added fictional gloss on the facts that we know come as a pleasant and interesting surprise for any art devotee. Johansson brilliantly plays the role of a young servant girl stepping into something she has little comprehension of, yet rises to the occasion and joins in the creation of a beautiful masterwork. This is a one-to-remember movie in Cinema history.

Surviving Picasso (1996) – a classic of Cinema

SURVIVING PICASSO, from left: Natascha McElhone, Anthony Hopkins as Picasso
Natascha McElhone as Françoise, Anthony Hopkins as Pablo

Telling the dramatic and tempestuous life of one of the most famous artists of all time is a difficult enough endeavor, but to tell it from the perspective of one of his lovers is an entirely different task. Surviving Picasso tells the story of Francoise Gilot, played by Natascha McElhone and Anthony Hopkins as Picasso. This movie from 1996 details the life and loves of the two and also detail its untimely end due to the obsessiveness and temperament of Picasso himself. Showing the strength of one of the strongest lovers to date, this movie does a great job of showing what it must have been like to live with the obsessive man.

Basquiat release in 1996

Basquiat Movie 1996
Jeffery Wright as Basquiat and David Bowie as Andy Warhol

Portrayed brilliantly by a fantastic cast (Jeffery Wright as Basquiat and David Bowie as Andy Warhol), this 1996 depiction of the life of Basquiat is a great example of telling a short, passionate life in the span of two hours. The film tracks the life of the adult Basquiat from his humble beginnings as a street artist to his monumental rise in fame, including his difficult and complex relationship with his mentor and friend Andy Warhol. The film does a marvelous job of detailing life in the 60’s as well as what the price of fame and brilliance truly is.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Kristen Wiig as Charlotte, Bel Powley as Minnie and Alexander Skarsgard as Monroe

Departing from the world of famous, world-renown artists comes a much more humble and relatable tale in a young girl developing a relationship with her mother’s boyfriend. This 2015 movie starring Bel Powley, Kristen Wiig, and Alexander Skarsgard revolves around the life of 15-year-old cartoonist, Minnie, as she keeps an audio diary and details her life as it happens. Once again situating art as a relatable and intimate activity, this movie roots the artist’s lifestyle in a familiar and recognizable story, ultimately detailing the intricate and beautiful inner lives of the artist themselves.

I Shot Andy Warhol released in 1996

I shot Andy Warhol - Movie
Lily Taylor as Valerie Solanas

In 1996, the British independent cinema provided a controversial yet compelling picture, with the true story of Valerie Solanas She is the creator of the SCUM manifesto and the shooter of Andy Warhol. Starring Lili Taylor as Valerie and Jared Harris as Andy Warhol, it isn’t every day that we delve into the mind of a deranged yet sympathetic figure of Solanas and her motivations for doing what she did. An interesting and alternative look at the life and work of Andy Warhol and a compelling story in its own right, this movie is a welcome treat for anyone interested in the gigantic social life of Andy Warhol.

National Gallery – Documentary (2014)

Art in Cinema - National Gallery
Documentary about the National Gallery in London

Ending the list with a documentary, this cinema production goes inside the eminently famous National Gallery in London and showcases the grand collection of one of the greatest museums in the world. Human experiences from all walks of life, spanning a breathtaking 600 years of production, this gallery is a monumental human achievement and this documentary captures and breathes life into one of the most enduring museums of all time.

No matter what kind of art or cinema you are interested in, or no matter which artist you are craving information and context about, there is a wide variety of movies out there for you to choose from. Our ongoing desire to understand more about genius and creativity will always ensure that we are continually interested in the great artists of the past and these movies illustrate our desire to continually tell these stories. One of the best ways to gain a better understanding of the artist is to understand their biography, and any of these movies can give you a massive insight into a particular artist or the artistic process as a whole.

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