Art at the Movies

To celebrate the UK premiere (October 9th) of the first fully painted feature film “Loving Vincent”  Which, by the way, was painted in oils by artists, not animators, and yes, I have a vested interest as I was the only English artist who was part of the 125 artists who made up the team of painters.  I have made a  list of my favourite films about art and artists.

 LOVING VINCENT  is the world’s first fully painted feature film about the life and mysterious death of Vincent Van Gogh.   Directors:  Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman





MR TURNER  An exploration of the last quarter century of the great, if eccentric, British painter J.M.W. Turner’s life.Director:  Mike Leigh

CARAVAGGIO A retelling of the life of the celebrated 17th-century painter through his brilliant, nearly blasphemous paintings and his flirtations with the underworld.Director: Derek Jarman

CAMILLE CAUDEL 1915  Winter, 1915. Confined by her family to an asylum in the South of France – where she will never sculpt again – the chronicle of Camille Claudel’s reclusive life, as she waits for a visit from her brother, Paul Claudel.  Director: Bruno Dumont

SHIRLEY 13 of Edward Hopper’s paintings are brought alive by the film, telling the story of a woman, whose thoughts, emotions and contemplations let us observe an era in American history. Shirley is a woman in America in the 1930s, ’40s, ’50s, and early ’60s. A woman who would like to influence the course of history with her professional and socio political involvement.  Director: Gustav Deutsch

BIG EYES A drama about the awakening of painter Margaret Keane, her phenomenal success in the 1950s, and the subsequent legal difficulties she had with her husband, who claimed credit for her works in the 1960s. Director: Tim Burton

VINCENT & THEO The familiar tragic story of Vincent van Gogh is broadened by focusing as well on his brother Theodore, who helped support Vincent. The movie also provides a nice view of the locations which Vincent painted.  Director: Robert Altman

SERAPHINE  Séraphine de Senlis, better known as Séraphine Louis, was a middle-aged French housekeeper and self-taught artist inspired by nature, though she didn’t pick up a paintbrush until she was 41. She famously incorporated in her paintings such materials as soil and the blood of dead animals, which she found on her daily walks. Séraphine shows how she was discovered’ by German art critic Wilhelm Uhde. The movie was a critical darling and snapped up numerous awards.

CARRINGTON The platonic relationship between artist Dora Carrington and writer Lytton Strachey in the early 20th century. Director: Christopher Hampton

SUMMER IN FEBRUARY A true tale of love, liberty and scandal amongst the Edwardian artists’ colony in Cornwall  Director: Christopher Menaul

RENOIR The Côte d’Azur. 1915. In his twilight years, Pierre-Auguste Renoir is tormented by the loss of his wife, the pains of arthritic old age and the terrible news that his son Jean has been wounded in action. But when a young girl miraculously enters his world, the old painter is filled with a new, wholly unexpected energy. Blazing with life, radiantly beautiful, Andrée will become his last model, and the wellspring of a remarkable rejuvenation. Back at the family home to convalesce, Jean too falls under the spell of the new, redheaded star in the Renoir firmament. In their Mediterranean Eden – and in the face of his father’s fierce opposition – he falls in love with this wild, untameable spirit… and as he does so, within weak-willed, battle-shaken Jean, a filmmaker begins to grow.

Set on the French Riviera in the summer of 1915, Jean Renoir — son of the Impressionist painter, Pierre-Auguste — returns home to convalesce after being wounded in World War I. At his side is Andrée, a young woman who rejuvenates, enchants, and inspires both father and son.

ARTEMISIA Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1653) was one of the first well-known female painters. The movie tells the story of her youth, when she was guided and protected by her father, the painter Orazio Gentileschi. Her professional curiosity about the male anatomy, forbidden for her eyes, led her to the knowledge of sexual pleasure. But she was also well known because in 1612 she had to appear in a courtroom because her teacher, Agostino Tassi, was suspected of raping her. She tried to protect him, but was put in the thumb screws… Director: Agnès Merlet

OVIRI This biographical film, based on the life of French artist Paul Gauguin (Donald Sutherland), follows the painter as he returns to Paris after a long stay in Tahiti and must confront his wife, his children, and his former lover. Director: Henning Carlsen

GOYA IN BORDEAUX Francisco Goya (1746-1828), deaf and ill, lives the last years of his life in voluntary exile in Bordeaux, a Liberal protesting the oppressive rule of Ferdinand VII. He’s living with his much younger wife Leocadia and their daughter Rosario. He continues to paint at night, and in flashbacks stirred by conversations with his daughter, by awful headaches, and by the befuddlement of age, he relives key times in his life, particularly his relationship with the Duchess of Alba, his discovery of how he wanted to paint (insight provided by Velázquez’s work), and his lifelong celebration of the imagination. Throughout, his reveries become tableaux of his paintings. Director: Carlos Saura

REMBRANDT This character study joins the painter at the height of his fame in 1642, when his adored wife suddenly dies and his work takes a dark, sardonic turn that offends his patrons. Director: Alexander Korda

KILMT A portrait of Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, whose lavish, sexual paintings came to symbolize the art nouveau style of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Director: Raoul Ruiz

FRIDA A biography of artist Frida Kahlo, who channelled the pain of a crippling injury and her tempestuous marriage into her work. Director: Julie Taymor

POLLOCK A film about the life and career of the American painter, Jackson Pollock. Director: Ed Harris

FACTORY GIRL Based on the rise and fall of socialite Edie Sedgwick, concentrating on her relationships with Andy Warhol and a folk singer. Director: George Hickenlooper

GIRL WITH THE PEARL EARRING A young peasant maid working in the house of painter Johannes Vermeer becomes his talented assistant and the model for one of his most famous works. Director: Peter Webber

SURVIVING PICASSO The passionate Merchant Ivory drama tells the story of Francoise Gilot, the only lover of Pablo Picasso, who was strong enough to withstand his ferocious cruelty, and move on with her life. Director: James Ivory

BASQUIAT The troubled, brief life of Jean-Michel Basquiat, a world renowned artist struggling with drug addiction and his own identity. Director: Julian Schnabel


THE IMPRESSIONISTS Three hour mini-series tells the intimate history of a most illustrious brotherhood of Impressionist artists – Monet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne and Manet. Entirely based on documentary evidence, special effects transport the viewer inside some of the world’s best-loved paintings, The Impressionists will recreate the illuminated landscapes, and haunting portraits of late 19th-century France.

DESPERATE ROMANTICS Period TV drama set in London about the rise of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.Creators:  Peter Bowker, Franny Moyle


About Sarah

Sarah Wimperis is a professional artist and illustrator and also works for Artlook in Client Support and as our Artist Ambassador. Sarah's Artlook website is here.