10 Best Movies About Artists

The 10 best movies about artist encompass the entire artistic world, from painters and dancers to playwrights and novelists. You’ll find nearly every type of artist represented here in these ten outstanding films.

  1. “Lust for Life” (1956) Based on the novel by Irving Stone, Kirk Douglas plays Vincent Van Gogh in this account of Van Gogh’s tormented life as an artist. Highlighted is Van Gogh’s relationship with Theo Van Gogh, his brother and financial and emotional support throughout the Van Gogh’s career. Anthony Quinn took home an Oscar for his role as Paul Gaugin, Van Gogh’s rival.
  2. “Finding Neverland” (2004) This is a movie about artist James Matthew Barrie, the novelist who wrote “Peter Pan.” The story was originally inspired by Barrie’s struggling neighbors. “Neverland” shows Barrie caring for his neighbors while at the same time trying to get his own career off the ground. A great performance by Johnny Depp as Barrie and Kate Winslet as the mother of the family next door.
  3. “Frida” (2002) Produced by and starring Selma Hayek in the title role, “Frida” is a movie that tells the tale of Frida Kahlo, one of Mexico’s most famous and revolutionary painters. It shows Frida’s upbringing to her beginnings as an artist to acquiring acclaim and stature as a painter. “Frida” was nominated for six Oscars and took home two wins.
  4. “Basquiat” (1996) This movie about artist Jean Michael Basquiat shows the heavy influence that fellow artist and pop phenom Andy Warhol had on Basquiat and his friends. Chronicling Basquiat’s life from homelessness to eventual celebrity and tragic death at the young age of 27, the movie shows Basquiat with unvarnished truth and power.
  5. “Wonder Boys” (2000) Based on the Michael Chabon novel of the same name, “Wonder Boys” stars Michael Douglas as Grady Tripp, a successful novelist and college professor who’s fallen into a deep personal rut. He begrudgingly takes one of his students, an aspiring writer, under his wings but ends up learning more about himself in the end.
  6. “Moulin Rouge” (2001) One of the best movies about artists, “Moulin Rouge” is also chock full of artists of various types. Whether it’s the writer Christian (Ewan McGregor), the actors in his play, or the musicians and dancers providing accompaniment, “Moulin Rouge” is a feast of artistic delight that focuses on Christian’s love affair with terminally-ill Satine (Nicole Kidman), a courtesan who had sworn off true love.
  7. “Crumb” (1994) Robert Crumb is a comic book artist who was raised as a child under horrific family conditions but managed to harness his experiences into a career as an underground artist. “Crumb” weaves interviews with his colleagues, friends, exes and family members, the last of which show why Crumb was as damaged as he was.
  8. “Iris” (2001) Based on memoirs written by her husband John Bayley (Jim Broadbent), “Iris” is a movie about artist and English writer Iris Murdoch. The role of Murdoch is played by Kate Winslet in her younger years and Judi Dench in her later ones. The movie details Murdoch’s experiences with Alzheimer’s and her husband’s struggle to care for the woman he loves. Broadbent won a ton of awards for his portrayal, including an Oscar.
  9. “The Draughtsman’s Contract” (1982) This movie is one of the most original and creative movies about artists. Mr. Neville (Anthony Higgins) is contracted to create twelve sketches of Mrs. Herbert’s (Janet Suzman) estate. Money and sexual favors are offered as compensation, but as Mr. Neville embarks on his plans to manipulate and deceive Mrs. Herbert, he finds himself tangled up in a scheme he never saw coming.
  10. “Pollock” (2000) In this Ed Harris-directed movie about artists, Harris is Jackson Pollock, an abstract painter from the 40s who pioneered fresh new ways to use drip and splatter techniques in his works. Nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress Oscars, it netted a win for Marcia Gay-Harden as Pollock’s lover and manager Lee Krausner.
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