A curated list of movies about artists

I don’t know about you, but I love the movies. And I love artists. And I can’t think of a better way to combine the two than movies about artists. Thus, I bring you five great films about artists.

MV5BNzczMzA2NDkwNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjUzMjk3OA@@._V1_SY317_CR7,0,214,317_AL_1. Lust for Life (1956)

It’s Kirk Douglas starring as Vincent van Gogh in a film made by the father of Vincente Minnelli, father of Liza Minelli and director of classic musicals like Meet Me in St. Louis and An American in Paris. It definitely has its slow moments, but the film is simply beautiful. Above all else, watch it for Douglas and for Anthony Quinn, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Paul Gauguin. You can also check out the book, by Irving Stone.

MV5BMTM0MjU3NTM5OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDkxODAwMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_2. Pollock (2000)

The early 2000s were a great time for movies about artists, as the next three items on this list show. Certainly not the easiest film to watch, Pollock is still incredibly fascinating. Ed Harris fulfilled his dream of portraying the artist and his struggle with alcoholism in this film, and Marcia Gay Harden, playing his Jewish wife, won an Oscar for her role.

MV5BMTU4NjU3NjA0N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjI4MTQyMQ@@._V1_SX214_AL_3. Girl with a Pearl Earring (2004)

Based on the book of the same name by Tracy Chevalier, the film adaptation stars Scarlett Johansson as the girl, Griet, and Colin Firth as the artist Vermeer himself. Though recent evidence suggest the girl was actually Vermeer’s daughter, Maria, this fictional tale is just as compelling.


MV5BMTMyODUyMDY1OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMDA2OTU3._V1_SX214_AL_4. Frida (2002)

Julie Taymor (Across the Universe, The Tempest) assembled an A-list cast for her film about Kahlo. Portraying Kahlo in all her tragic glory, Salma Hayek gives an incredible performance, as does Alfred Molina as Rivera. It’s easy to tell just how much the filmmakers loved their subject: Frida is tragic, thought-provoking, hilarious, and passionate, all in one.

5MV5BMTM4NjY1MDQwMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTI3Njg3NA@@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_. Midnight in Paris (2013)

OK, so this isn’t exclusively about Picasso, but still, it would be criminal to leave this flawless Woody Allen film off the list, since it’s just so much fun. Adrien Brody’s portrayal of Salvador Dali is offbeat and hilarious, and Marion Cotillard plays a mistress of Picasso, who falls in love with Owen Wilson’s modern day struggling author, Gil. Picasso himself makes an appearance or two as well. Besides those two, though, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Cole Porter all appear, fully capturing Paris in the 1920s.

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