Art is a fascinating subject that has inspired countless films over the years. From documentaries about famous artists to dramas that explore the passion and dedication required to create great art, there is no shortage of interesting movies on this topic. Here are nine of the best films that provide insight into the world of art.

Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

This one-of-a-kind documentary covers the secretive world of street art by following Thierry Guetta, a French immigrant in LA who videotapes street artists. When Guetta attempts to make a documentary himself, with help from renowned graffiti artist Banksy, the results are disastrously funny. The film raises thought-provoking questions about what constitutes art while displaying some amazing street optical illusion art.

The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)

This biopic focuses on the bitter rivalry between two titans of art history – Michelangelo and Pope Julius II. Charlton Heston gives a powerful performance as Michelangelo, depicting the artist’s struggle to complete his Sistine Chapel ceiling masterpiece. The film provides a glimpse into Michelangelo’s perfectionism and the sacrifices he made for his art. Dramatic scenes bring the 16th-century Florentine art world to life.

Frida (2002)

Salma Hayek earned an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Frida Kahlo, the legendary Mexican artist. The film captures Kahlo’s tumultuous life, from her brush with death in a trolley accident to her stormy marriage to fellow artist Diego Rivera, played by Alfred Molina. Kahlo’s bold, vibrant paintings are shown taking shape on screen. The film immerses viewers in Mexico City’s radical art scene in the 1930s-1950s.

Big Eyes (2014)

This biopic follows the rise of American artist Margaret Keane, portrayed by Amy Adams, who became famous for her paintings of children with oversized, haunting eyes. It also depicts her struggle to get credit for the artwork after her husband, Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), wrongfully took credit for her paintings. The courtroom scenes where Margaret fights to prove she is the real artist are especially powerful. The film conveys her quiet determination as she fights a long battle for recognition.

Pollock (2000)

Ed Harris earned an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock in this biopic. It chronicles Pollock’s rise to fame in the New York art scene in the 1940s-50s as well as his volatile personality and struggles with alcoholism. The film captures Pollock in action, showcasing the famous artist’s unconventional drip painting technique. In addition to Pollock, it depicts his relationship with fellow painter Lee Krasner (Marcia Gay Harden).

My Left Foot (1989)

Daniel Day-Lewis won an Academy Award for his moving performance as Christy Brown, an Irish artist born with cerebral palsy who could only control his left foot. The film documents Brown’s determination to pursue his passion for art and writing despite his physical limitations. Scenes of Brown painstakingly grasping a paintbrush with his toes and left foot demonstrate his perseverance and talent. The film is an inspiring profile of an extraordinary artist.

Camille Claudel (1988)

This French film tells the tragic story of sculptor Camille Claudel and her 15-year affair with Auguste Rodin, the famous sculptor she apprenticed under in the late 1800s. Obsessively devoted to her art, Claudel struggles with inner demons and her intense relationship with Rodin, played brilliantly by Gérard Depardieu. The film conveys Claudel’s unappreciated genius through her exquisite sculptures, and her painful descent into madness after she ends her tumultuous relationship with Rodin.

Lust for Life (1956)

Kirk Douglas stars as tortured Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh in this biopic. It follows van Gogh’s close but fraught relationship with fellow painter Paul Gauguin as the two live together in Arles, France. The film captures van Gogh’s brilliant mind, inner turmoil, and descent into mental illness through the beauty of his landscape paintings and stylistic techniques coming to life on screen. An emotional score by Miklós Rózsa adds to the film’s intensity.

Loving Vincent (2017)

This unique animated film used over 65,000 painted frames in Van Gogh’s distinctive style to tell the story of the artist’s life. It depicts the mysterious circumstances surrounding Van Gogh’s death through the eyes of a Post-Impressionist painter investigating his final days. The visually stunning animation immerses viewers in Van Gogh’s world by animating 120 of his paintings. Dramatic scenes and voice acting bring the troubled artist to life in an innovative way no traditional film could capture.

From illuminating the lives of legendary painters to shedding light on lesser-known artists, these nine films provide a glimpse into the passion, heartbreak and inspiration involved in the creation of great art.

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