• gerard van weyenbergh

10 films about "Art" to watch on Netflix

Updated: Jul 31, 2020

1. The last years of Vincent Van Gogh

If many filmmakers (Maurice Pialat, Robert Altman, Vincente Minnelli) had already taken possession of the life of Vincent Van Gogh, Julian Schnabel - himself a painter - signs a unique biopic of its kind. Blue and yellow filters, unstable camera, twilight fields, charred sunflowers: the expressionist aesthetic of the film perfectly expresses the mystical torments of the accursed artist. Artist last years are followed in Arles, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and Auvers- sur-Oise. Although it is always strange to hear Van Gogh speak English, the actor Willem Dafoe fits perfectly into the skin of the painter. With him, other big names from the big screen like Mads Mikkelsen (fantastic), Rupert Friend, and Niels Arestrup.

At Eternity's Gate

American film by Julian Schnabel • 2018 • 1 h 50

2. The provocative itinerary of Chris Burden

Chris Burden was locked in a locker for five days, shot in the arm and crucified on the hood of a Volkswagen, in the name of ART. But he is also the creator of Urban Light (2008), a magical forest of lampposts installed in front of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Nourished by videos of the extreme performances which made him known in the 1970s, comments by art critics, glimpses of his private life and reflections from the artist himself, this documentary released the year of his death in 2016 paints a portrait of a provocative trash, whose works have calmed down over time.


A documentary by Timothy Marrinan and Richard Dewey • 2016 • 1 h 30

3. Experts in the kingdom of painters

Monet, Rembrandt, Turner, Renoir, Chagall, and others, each episode of this British documentary series, launched in 2011 on the BBC, looks at a possible lost work by a great artist. The goal? Determine if it is an original or an excellent copy! Already at the origin of several discoveries, the English art dealer and art historian Philip Mold and the journalist Fiona Bruce are leading the investigation, assisted by Bendor Grosvenor, an art historian recognized in Great Britain, as well as of a team of scientists and archivists. Ready for a treasure hunt?

Fake or Fortune

British docu-series • 2011-2019 • 7 seasons each containing between 3 and 5 episodes of 1 hour each.

4. Velvet Buzzsaw: contemporary art in lint

In Los Angeles, a mannered art critic, a ruthless gallery owner, and a long-toothed assistant discover the posthumous work of a marginal artist. Dark and tortured canvases that could pay big if an evil power did not inhabit them... Worn by excellent actors including Jake Gyllenhaal, Toni Collette, and John Malkovich, Velvet Buzzsaw reveals himself - despite a caricature a little too pushed - an enjoyable satire across the world of contemporary art. Nonsense, vanity, greed, perversity, fierce competition. Absolutely nothing is spared us!

Velvet Buzzsaw

Dan Gilroy's American film • 2019 • 1 h 52

5. An artist's fight against Kim Jong-un

This superb documentary traces the poignant journey of a North Korean propaganda painter who fled his country in the 1990s to become a satirist artist whose committed works defy the Kim regime. Although one of the first North Korean artists to be able to show his work around the world freely, Sun Mu - a pseudonym meaning without borders - continues to hide his face, including during his performances in public, to protect his family who stayed in North Korea.

I am Sun Mu

A documentary by Adam Sjöberg • 2015 • 1 hr 27 mins

6. Diary of a Korean painter of the XVIth century

In this series River, an art historian discovers the diary of Shin Saimdang (1504-1551), a famous woman painter, poet, and calligrapher Korean XVIth century. Then follows a play of mirrors between the lives of the two women (one fictitious, the other romanticized) and their respective eras. Faced with the beauty and elegance of the staging, we easily forgive the melodramatic exaggerations specific to Korean dramas. The ceremonial of color preparation lulls us, the brushes tracing their sinuous path on paper, the light filtering in through the bamboo leaves, and the ballet of fabrics stretched in the wind.

Saimdang, Memoir of Colors

Korean series by Yun Sang-Ho • 2017 • 1 season (28 episodes of 1 hour each)

7. Cai Guo-Qiang's pyrotechnic reveries

Build a light ladder to reach the sky: everyone dreamed of it, Cai Guo-Qiang did it. This contemplative documentary traces the history of an ambitious and poetic project while painting the portrait of its author, Cai Guo-Qiang, known for his pyrotechnic performances of great beauty. Eye powder? No, because the film also evokes angry questions. Like the fact that this 61-year-old Chinese artist, living in New York since 1995, fueled the propaganda of the Chinese government by carrying out the fireworks for the opening of the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

The Celestial Ladder - The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang

A documentary by Kevin Macdonald • 2016 • 1 hr 19 mins

8. Art as a remedy

This Brazilian story tells us a true story. In 1944, Nise da Silveira rebelled against the electroshock and lobotomy. They were performed by her colleagues on schizophrenic patients in a psychiatric hospital in the suburbs of Rio. To these barbaric methods, this woman doctor opposes art therapy by opening a clinic-workshop, then a museum dedicated to the creations of her patients. Particularly touching and soothing, the painting scenes follow the emergence of a group of self-taught artists of fascinating sincerity. One of the most powerful functions of art is the revelation of the unconscious, says one of Nise only supporters.

Nise: The Heart of Madness

Roberto Berliner Brazilian film • 2016 • 1 h 49

9. A Polish genius emerges from the shadows

In this documentary, several artists relate the life of a forgotten genius: the Polish painter and sculptor Stanislaw Szukalski (1893–1987), who had endeavored to create an art based on the history and mythology of his country, and whose pre-war works were all destroyed by the German army. Emigrated to the United States, this eccentric had become a key figure in the Chicago Renaissance movement in the 1910s, before developing a far-fetched theory in 42 volumes on the history of humanity. Funny detail, the film was produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, Szukalski, having befriended the father of the actor during his exile in Los Angeles in the 1970s.

Struggle: Szukalski life and lost art

A documentary by Irek Dobrowolski • 2018 • 1 hr 45 mins

10. Contemporary design in series

This original Netflix docu-series, produced by multi-award winning documentary filmmaker Morgan Neville, has offered to immerse the viewer at the heart of the work of genius contemporary designers since 2017. After a first season which was interested in the work of the German illustrator Christoph Niemann or the legendary creator of the Nike shoe, Tinker Hatfield, the second season is devoted in particular to the spectacular art of Olafur Eliasson and the costumes of Ruth Carter films. Abstract has the distinction of filming the creative process as closely as possible, letting the words of these everyday hubcaps shine. seen in Beaux-Arts