Visual artists biographies is a popular theme in the movie world. Moviemakers have always been fascinated by visual artists biographies, especially if it includes struggle with insanity, drug addiction or social conventions. In addition, it gives them an opportunity to depict original or resurrected artworks on the big screen.
Here you can read about some of the most interesting movies about visual artists biographies.
Lust for Life directed by Vincente Minnelli in 1952
Vincent Van Gogh biography had gained several cinematic adaptations. Lust for Life with Kirk Douglas as the struggling artist is one of the most notable. The movie is based on a best selling book by Irving Stone, who also authored The Agony and the Ecstasy about Michelangelo, which also had appeared on the silver screen.
If you are a fan of Van Gogh artwork, you would enjoy watching Last for Life, which features almost 200 of Van Goghs original paintings. However, if you are familiar with Kirk Douglas previous filmographic, seeing him as a tortured Dutch painter might take a little adjustment. Another recommended film about Van Gogh is Robert Altmans Vincent and Theo from 1990.
Surviving Picasso directed by James Ivory in 1996
Like Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso image made him an iconic figure outside the artistic circles. While Van Gogh symbolizes the self destructive, manic depressive artist who achieves success only after his death, Picasso represents the misanthropic and womanizer artist. Picasso infamous relationship with women is the focus of this Merchant and Ivory film. The story is told from the eyes of Picasso mistress Francoise Gilot and features only reproductions of Picasso works. With Anthony Hopkins talent and his physical resemblance to Picasso, Surviving Picasso manages to create an unflattering portrait of an artist as a cruel, self centered genius.
Girl with Pearl Earring directed by Peter Webber in 2003
Comparing to Van Gogh and Picasso, Vermeers biography is less known and less controversial. Therefore Girl with Pearl Earring is much more restrained and delicate. The movie focuses on a short period in Vermeers life in which he was painting the portrait of his young low class maid. Although Girl with Pearl Earring does not avoid filmic conventions by over dramatizing Vermeers painting process, the movie is worth watching if only for its artistic design, which success in evoking Vermeers perception of light and color.
Basquiat directed by Julian Schnabel in 1996
The most common critique against movies that deals with visual arts is the way they depict the creation process. Therefore, there were big expectations from Basquiat, which was directed by the celebrated painter Julian Schnabel. Schnabel did well in depicting Jean Michelle Basquiat rise and fall story in less the predictable manner we have seen millions time before. However, the only reason to watch Basquiat is David Bowie plays the role of Andy Warhol.
Frida directed by Julie Taymor in 2002
Like most of the visual artists who had their life story appear on the silver screen, Frida Kahlo carried an unusual biography, which includes bus accident, problematic marriage, and an affair with Leon Trotsky. Like Van Gogh, Picasso and Jackson Pollock, who was the subject of a biopic from 2000, Frida Kahlo was an icon long before Frida was released, but the 123 minutes film did help to strength her position as a feminist idol and probably the most famous woman painter of the 20 century. Frida tries its best to integrate Frida Kahlo life story with her painting and the result is very colorful and pleasant, but still does not stay far enough from the conventions of depicting artists on film.