There’s nothing I enjoy more than a good movie but finding good art movies can be challenging especially if you’re burdened with knowledge about the artist being portrayed. I have to say that some of the movies I’m talking about have great entertainment value but are certainly not to be considered factual. There are elements of fact in these movies but as is often the case they are re-purposed for dramatic effect. The documentaries I recommend are as close to factual as you can get but there will always be an element of opinion bias.
That being said, let’s dive in:
Finding Vivian Maier – is an award-winning documentary which charts the events of a collector who bought boxes of photographic negatives from an auction in America and developed the film to see what was on them. He was amazed at what he found. The photographs were stunning. They were artistically shot, well composed and some of the most important real-life photographs that an American artist has ever produced. The kicker is that the owner of this collection had no idea who had made them. This documentary follows his journey to uncover the person behind the lens and try to understand the woman who found beauty in the mundane every day occurrences on the streets where she lived. On a personal note I will say that this documentary was a revelation for me, it’s something I saw several years ago whilst visiting family in Belgium and it has stayed with me ever since. It’s beautiful, suspenseful, entertaining, sad, yet brilliant.
Mr Turner – This movie starring Timothy Spall charts the mid to latter years of J.M.W. Turners life. It focuses on his work and relationships of that time. It has all the famous moments you’d expect in a film about Turner: Him being strapped to a mast so he can see the stormy seas and understand the lines and movement of a turbulent ocean, his long-standing feud with John Constable and his association with the Royal Academy. This film although not terribly factual in parts is well shot and good entertainment.
Final Portrait – This 2017 movie follows a strange encounter with Alberto Giacometti. A young writer is doing an article on Giacometti and when the great artist asks him to sit for a portrait he finds it hard to turn him down although there’s one problem, he has to be back in America the next day. Giacometti assures him the painting will be finished by then. What follows is a sometimes funny but always interesting look into the life of true art genius and the turbulent world he lives in; juggling mistresses, a wife, a career, his passions, and his insecurities. Geoffrey Rush plays Alberto Giacometti and Armie Hammer plays his subject for the portrait. This is a great snapshot of the relationship that can form between an artist and their sitter.
Struggle: The lost art of Szukalski (Netflix) – I saw this documentary a few months ago and I was amazed at the work of this artist Szukalski. However his Sculptures are only a small part of his story, which is both interesting and alarming. This documentary by Leonardo DiCaprio tells the story of a man considered at one time to be one of the greatest ever Polish Artists. Thought to be dead he was discovered living in Los Angeles, a young film maker took the opportunity to interview him and catalogue his life story and work. What follows is a revealing tell all tale about a man who was ostracised from his own Country. The clever part of this documentary is not what it tells you, but what it omits, and after viewing the whole story you may come to the same conclusion that I did.
Skyladder (Netflix) - Cai Guo-Qiang is an event artist who specialises in gunpowder, specifically through the medium of fireworks. His artistic events are perfect for the modern generation who film and photograph everything. His art explodes in the sky then vanishes. It can’t be sold, it can’t be accurately repeated, and it never fails to impress. This documentary tells Cai’s story but more than that it documents his struggle to complete one massive challenge, he wants to create a ladder from Earth to the sky. He’s failed twice before and this is his last attempt at making his vision become a reality.
That concludes my list of movies that are worth watching on art. There are many more which should get a mention I have to include the biopic on Picasso which was portrayed by Antonio Banderas recently, it was a great foray into his early life and his many loves and motivations. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn't include it in the list because it isn't a movie but a several part TV series.
As always, I thank you for your attention and please feel free to drop me an email if you enjoyed any of my recommendations.
Images are not our own and are from various sources - links supplied.
All opinions are my own and not De Lacey Fine Art's or any other company or body.
Copyright G Farmer 2019