Top 10 Films About Contemporary Art

Visiting art galleries and reading art magazines and books is great. But sometimes you just want to lie on your sofa with a cup of tea and relax watching a good movie. Now that it’s winter, you might feel this desire more often. A movie can be an art form and when it is a movie about great artists and art, it’s like watching ‘art squared’, so to speak. So don’t miss out, give it a try – you won’t be sorry.

Here is a list of movies about contemporary art to get you started. Some are old, some new, but all are really inspiring. I have listed the movies alphabetically, and I haven’t given any of them a personal rating since as far as I’m concerned, all of them are worth watching. This is just to inspire you to watch these films, and perhaps move on to others afterwards.

Art School Confidential

Who said anything about talent?

IMDb rating: 6.3

Director: Terry Zwigoff

Production year: 2006

This movie is a comedy rather than drama, and it focuses on the story of an art student who had spent all his life dreaming about being a great artist. Although the film makes fun of the contemporary art world in many respect, it also shows its attractive side, and gives an idea of the dedication artists can feel to their work.

Basquiat

In 1981, A Nineteen-Year-Old Unknown Graffiti Writer Took the New York Art World by Storm. The Rest Is Art History

IMDb rating: 6.8

Director: Julian Schnabel

Production year: 1996

This is an absolutely unforgettable movie about American street artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. It gives you a deep view of Basquiat’s world, his life, friends, love and works. Julian Schnabel is an artist himself, and so has personal experience of the world he’s looking into, something that adds an unusual and meaningful level of validity to the movie.

Exit Through the Gift Shop

The incredible true story of how the world’s greatest Street Art movie was never made…

IMDb rating: 8.2

Director: Banksy

Production year: 2010

It is brilliant movie, which keeps you guessing and puzzling right through to the end. At first sight you may think that the film is about street art documentary filmmaker Thierry Guetta, but actually it is about world famous graffiti artist Banksy. I won`t be surprised if after watching this film you want to hit the streets with a spray can.

Factory Girl

When Andy met Edie, life imitated art

IMDb rating: 6.1

Director: George Hickenlooper

Production year: 2006

Although the movie is dedicated to the life of underground film star Edie Sedgwick, and this aspect of it is certainly interesting, much of the appeal comes from his explored relationship with Andy Warhol. Watching the movie will give you the a fairly comprehensive impression of the Factory, a place where artists of any genre met and created what became a game-changing part of modern art.

Frida

Prepare to be seduced

IMDb rating: 7.3

Director: Julie Taymor

Production year: 2002

This is a fantastic biographical story about the life and work of an extraordinary and immensely strong woman, the well-known Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. The film is like her works: colorful, full of love, powerful and unique.

Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus

IMDb rating: 6.2

Director: Steven Shainberg

Production year: 2006

This is a sincere look at the iconic American photographer Diane Arbus and her real love for Lionel Sweeney, who helped her to become an artist who came to help define photography in the twentieth century.

The Great Contemporary Art Bubble

IMDb rating: 7.3

Director: Ben Lewis

Production year: 2009

This is an extremely interesting BBC production, by a UK art critic, Ben Lewis. It will take you on a journey into the contemporary art world, with all its secrets. You will visit world famous auction houses and galleries, and even the homes of art collectors.

How to Draw a Bunny

IMDb rating: 7.2

Director: John W. Walter

Production year: 2002

This is a documentary about Ray Johnson, who has been called “New York’s most famous unknown artist,” and is about the mysteries of his life and art, and of course his influence on the Pop Art world.

My Left Foot

A film about life, laughter, and the occasional miracle

IMDb rating: 7.8

Director: Jim Sheridan

Production year: 1989

This is based on the fantastic true story of Christy Brown, painter and author, who could control only his left foot. It is the only film in this list that won 5 Academy Awards, – Best Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis), Best Supporting Actress (Brenda Fricker), Best Director (Jim Sheridan), Best Picture and Best Screenplay (Shane Connaughton and Jim Sheridan). With that recommendation, how can you fail to give it a go?

Pollok

I thought I knew all the outstanding artists in New York and I don`t know Jackson Pollock

IMDb rating: 7.1

Director: Ed Harris

Production year: 2000

Wonderful movie about world famous American painter Jackson Pollock. This film demonstrates his great talent and difficult nature, and the way he tried to combine the two.

by Alice M Shown

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