In this article, we will dive into the world of Hollywood to explore some of the greatest movies about artists. There are hundreds of artist-themed movies, so while not exhaustive, this list is a great start!
Camille Claudel (1988)
The story of French sculptor Camille Claudel is fascinating and often overlooked. The 1988 French drama film Camille Claudel highlights her life story, starting from her time as a young assistant to the famous sculptor Auguste Rodin.
Over time, their bond intensifies, and she becomes his mistress. As their relationship grows, Camille's career does as well, partially because her involvement with Rodin allowed her to overcome the many prejudices she faced as a female artist.
Camille Claudel won five César awards, including Best Film and Best Actress for the lead performance of Isabelle Adjani.
Vincent and Theo (1990)
Next up is Vincent and Theo, which is one of the many movies made about the famous Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh. However, this one is a bit different from many of the others as the main storyline focuses on Vincent’s relationship with his little brother Theo.
Much of what we know about Vincent's life is due to the extensive written communication he kept with his brother throughout his entire life. Theo always supported and believed in Vincent, despite his struggles in both his professional and personal life.
The movie begins with an auction in 1987 at Christie's, at which a van Gogh painting sells for millions of pounds. It then jumps back into time to explore the artist's life, marred with difficulties and instability, and his relationship with Theo. Vincent and Theo got positive reviews, and the lead actors, Tim Roth (Vincent) and Paul Rhys (Theo), are especially impressive.
The next movie on our list is the 2002 film Frida, a biographical movie based on the famous Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.
Starring Selma Hayek as Kahlo, Frida begins with her childhood, when she suffered severe injuries in a bus crash. The injuries she sustained would impact her for the rest of her life. Another focus of the movie is her rocky relationship with Diego Rivera, an older and well-established fellow artist. Lastly, the movie has some fascinating political undercurrents as she was socially involved with many political activists, including Rivera and Leon Trotsky.
Frida generally got positive reviews; the critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes reads, "Frida is a passionate, visually striking biopic about the larger-than-life artist."
Yet another critically acclaimed movie is Séraphine, which covers the fascinating life of Séraphine-Louis, a self-taught French painter.
The French-Belgian movie begins by introducing Séraphine during her time as a maidservant. Every day, she finds comfort and inspiration in nature and religion and paints in her spare time. When a well-known art dealer named Wilhelm Uhde discovers her, Séraphine begins her life as an artist. The movie continues into her difficult later life.
The movie got great reviews and won many awards, including the César Award for Best Film in 2009. Yolande Moreau, who plays Séraphine, also won Best Actress.
Mr. Turner (2014)
The most recently-made movie on this list is Mr. Turner, a 2004 drama film focused on the last 25 years of British Romantic painter J.M.W. Turner.
It's a lovely film that explores even the more controversial traits of the artist, as well as his rivalry with fellow British landscape artist John Constable. It's a story of a flawed individual, the way he sees the world, and his epic work which remains highly-revered to this day.
The film got rave reviews for both the acting and the directing and is a must-see art movie to watch.