There is a tv series done by Tony Palmer called Wagner (1983) about the composer staring Richard Burton as Wagner that needs mentioning here. I would love to see it again, and it seems no one remembers it. Also in it, for example, were Vanessa Redgrave (as Cosima), Joan Plowright, Gabriel Byrne, Cyril Cusak, and a large cast of European actors. There are even bits for Ralph Richardson, Laurence Olivier, and John Gielgud!!! It has some great scenes and music – of course – but Burton’s Wagner takes a bit of getting used to, at first. Some of the action is a little slow – Palmer was trying for a Ken Russell touch – as in Russell’s own great bio-pics – and sometimes it works, other times not. Still, a sadly neglected work now, considering the cast and production. Any one else seen it – or interested in this? It was Burton’s last major role before he died the following year. More than a curiosity, it sprang to mind, somehow, as I was re-watching Moulin Rouge today on Turner.
Anyway, check the other posters recommendations – some great bios here, folks. Thinking or ‘artists’ in the broadest sense here, of course – not just ‘painters’.
simon schama’s The Power Of Art.
Bergman’s “Hour of the Wolf”. Unless you mean biopics on famous artists..
Though not the greatest film on it’s merit, it drew my interest since it was about an artist that is rarely mentioned in cinema, “Modigliani” with Andy Garcia playing the lead. Very interesting film.
A film that is not directly about the artist, but more about a figure in the artist’s life is “Factory Girl.” I mention this film due to the indirect (or perhaps direct) way it put Warhol in a not so glamourous or admirable light.
Although strictly made for BBC Television, Ken Russell’s various Monitor films, including Song of Summer (Delius), Elgar, Isadora (Duncan), The Debussy Film, Always on a Sunday (Henri Rousseau), Dante’s Inferno (Rossetti), etc are almost all visual knock-outs and manage to get under the skin of the creative process with relative economy and precision (albeit through Russell’s usually idiosyncratic eye).
You can buy a box-set of some of these from BBC DVD in America (Region 1 only). Well worth it.
A Zed and Two Noughts is a very good Vermeer movie – one of the few to tackle the artist’s art and completely ignore unnecessary, melodramatic, and oftentimes fictionalized stories about his life, particularly erotic encounters.
Anybody mention “Life Lessons” From New York Stories yet?
Now I see it, never mind.
Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005)
Great Expectations (1998)
The Pickup Artist- James Toback
Life Lessons there’s a great one. If we are open about what we consider artistic can we say “The Aviator”?
John Gielgud as a writer in “Providence”
George Sanders as Gauguin in “The Moon and Sixpence”
James Mason as Flaubert in “Madame Bovary”
Edward G. Robinson in “The Scarlet Street”
Gary Oldman as Joe Orton in “Prick Up Your Ears”
Geoffrey Rush as Peter Sellers in “The Life and Death of …”
John Cassavetes as a writer in “Love Streams”
In addition to many of the ones listed above:
BLOW-UP, about a photographer
LA NOTTE, about a novelist
L’AVVENTURA, about a (failed) architect
LIFE LESSONS, about a painter (played by Nick Nolte). This is Scorsese’s contribution to NEW YORK STORIES, an anthology film.
Altman’s “Vincent and Theo” ,about Van Gogh and his brother.
Before Night Falls
…How could I have forgoten the wonderful performance of Jacques Dutronc in Pialat’s “Van Gogh” !!
okay okay fine check out Le Belle Noiseuse and Amadeus and…
Documentary: Gabriel Orozco (2002)
Based on a memoir of an artist: Conversations with My Gardener, Dialogue avec mon jardinier (2007)
I watched “Bukowski: Born Into This” just last night. It was lingering in my Netflix queue for the past few months and I was recently rereading a lot of his poetry so I was finally in the mood for it.
I liked the narrative structure quite a bit. Some documentaries aren’t able to move from topic to topic without a jarring segue that takes the viewer out of the experience. I felt that this film avoided that well by using multiple different archival interviews of the man himself.
The scene where he breaks down and starts to cry during a reading of a poem about his ex-girlfriend is amazing.
here’s a brief list of films that jumped into my mind just now:
LA VERITABLE HISTOIRE D’ARTAUD LE MOMO – film about almighty Antonin Artaud.
HOW TO DRAW A BUNNY – documentary film about artist Ray Johnson.
THE EYE: STUART BRISLEY – documentary about british artist Stuart Brisley.
DE WEG NAAR BRESSON – film about french visionary filmmaker Robert Bresson (also formerly a painter).
TEOREMA – Film by almighty Pier Paolo Pasolini in which one of the family members is a painter.
PASOLINI PROSSIMO NOSTRO – documentary about filmmaker/poet/critic Pier Paolo Pasolini and his art process.
BLACK SUN – film portrait of a painter Hugues de Montalembert going blind by Gary Tarn.
DREAMS THAT MONEY CAN BUY – surrealist film by artist Hans Richter starring several prominent dadaist and surrealist artists of both movements.
HISTORY OF NOTHING – experimental film draws upon the collages and screen-printed work of this leading figure of British Pop art.
HELL ON EARTH: desecration & resurrection of the devils – documentary about Ken Russell and his film the devils.
HENRY MILLER: Asleep and Awake: film about almighty writer/poet Henry Miller.
NAKED LUNCH – david cronenberg film about writer and experimental artist William S. Burroughs.
4 AVENTURES DE REINETTE ET MIRABELLE – Eric Rohmer film in which 1 of main characters is a painter.
TALES OF ORDINARY MADNESS – marco ferreri film about writer/poet Charles Bukowski.
TOGETHER – film by Lorenza Mazzetti starring sculptor and artist Eduardo Paolozzi and painter Michael Andrews.
ALICE NEEL – documentary about female painter Alice Neel.
HUGH MacDIARMID: A PORTRAIT BY MARGARET TAIT – documentary about the writer by Poetic/experimental filmmaker Margaret Tait.
HAN BENNINK – film about percussionist and free jazz avant-garde dutch musician Han Bennink.
I HAVE NOTHING TO SAY AND I AM SAYING IT – documentary about composer/fluxus artist/critic/theorist/poet John Cage.
FRANCIS BACON – documentary about british artist Francis Bacon.
JEAN COCTEAU: LIES & TRUTHS – a film about extremely multidisciplinary artist Jean Cocteau.
SOUND – bbc film about almighty free-jazz musician Rahsaan Roland Kirk and almighty artist John Cage.
FLICKR – documentary about Brion Gysin and his dream machine.
JOSEPH BEUYS – documentary on the fluxus/conceptual artist/theorist Joseph Beuys for the ARENA series.
MELIES – documentary film about almighty filmmaker and magician Georges Melies. who directed more than 500 films.
MAX ERNST – documentary film about the life and work of surrealist painter Max Ernst.
BARFLY – another film about writer/poet Charles Bukowski.
A GAME OF CHESS – film about dadaist and surrealist Marcel Duchamp.
L’AMOUR MONSTRE DE TOUS LES TEMPS – short film about Walerian Borowczyk (himself as character).
AK – film about akira kurosawa by Chris Marker.
TOTAL ECLIPSE – film abour poet Arthur Rimbaud.
PAGANINI – film about the musician Paganini starred and directed by Klaus Kinski.
KENJI MIZOGUCHI’S LIFE – film about the japanese filmmaker Kenji Mizoguchi.
THE PAINTER – experimental film by Paul McCarthy.
right, that’s that… if i remember more i comeback and post some more.
hope y’all manage to find and watch all this remarkable pieces of art about art and the artists themselves. ta ta !
I’m 99 percent sure it’s been said, but, Horses Mouth
The Agony and the Ecstasy
Its not a masterpiece, and it is very flawed. But it is also very interesting, and enjoyable.
I think Control is great. Rather than choosing to paint Ian Curtis as a legend, the film works to show him as he really was.
Born Into This, about the life and times of Charles Bukowski. It made me want to read all of his books. The actual footage of him was at once entertaining and insightful.
Gonzo, a definitive look at Hunter S Thompson. I don’t think I’ve ever come away from a film knowing so much of a person’s idiosyncrasies.
Anyone list ‘Color Me Blood Red’ yet?
La Belle Nosseuse
Love is the Devil – Interesting, but only if you’re really into Francis Bacon.
There’s also some horrible movie where Robert Pattison plays a gay Dali.
My Brilliant Career
I think no one has mentioned Greenaway’s ‘Nightwatching’ yet. Rather theatrical but interesting nonetheless.
at the glasgow film festival back in ‘10 i caught Con Artist on a whim and have been sad ever since, because i don’t seem to hear anything about it from anyone, ever. it’s about mark kostabi, provocateur and enfant terrible of the 80s nyc art scene, and shows him stumbling to figure out what’s next for himself now that he’s too old for punk stunts and too desperate to land a girlfriend. the scenes of him lecturing some business students are just… ricky gervais couldn’t script more cringes in a movie.