Top 10 Documentaries Every Art Lover Should Watch (artnet news)

by Henri Neuendorf, Wednesday, July 29, 2015 original article here.

Hiroshi Sugimoto, <i>Theaters</i>, 1978 <br> Photo: © Hiroshi Sugimoto

Hiroshi Sugimoto, Theaters, 1978 Photo: © Hiroshi Sugimoto

Are you the kind of person who gets bored on vacation? Do you flick through Netflix not knowing what to watch? Why not check out one of our top 10 art documentaries?

Compiled in a convenient list we’ve put together the best movies that art lovers can’t miss out on. Watch Pablo Picasso or Gerhard Richter at work or get up close and personal with camera-shy photographer Cindy Sherman. On this list, there’s something for everyone.

Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child (2010) Photo:

Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child (2010) Photo:

1. Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child (2010)

A fantastic documentary that explores the life and art of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Directed by the artist’s close friend Tamra Davis, this movie features rare footage and interviews with Basquiat’s contemporaries of 1980s downtown New York.

The Art of the Steal (2009) Photo: imdb

The Art of the Steal (2009) Photo: imdb

2. The Art of the Steal (2009)

The documentary tells the story of the struggle for control of the Barnes Foundation, one of the world’s best collections of modern and impressionist art, valued at an estimated $25 billion. Politicians controversially moved the collection from Merion, Pennsylvania to downtown Philadelphia, contravening the will and testament of its founder, Albert C. Barnes.

Le Mystère Picasso (1956) Photo:

Le Mystère Picasso (1956) Photo:

3. Le mystère Picasso (1956)

This sensational film documents Pablo Picasso‘s creative process. Using specially designed transparent canvas, the camera traces the master’s every move, giving viewers insight into the painting technique of one of the most renowned artists of the 20th century.

Eames: The Architect And The Painter (2011) Photo:

Eames: The Architect And The Painter (2011) Photo:

4. Eames: The Architect & The Painter (2011)

Architect and designer Charles Eames and his wife Ray, an artist, were two of America’s most influential tastemakers. The couple made hugely significant contributions to modern architecture, furniture and art. Using archival material and new interviews with friends, collaborators, and experts, this superb film tells their story.

The Cool School (2008)  Photo:

The Cool School (2008) Photo:

5. The Cool School (2008)

Narrated by Jeff bridges, the film examines the rise of the Los Angeles art scene which developed as a counterculture rebelling against the Abstract Expressionist art movement championed in New York. It profiles the influential Ferus Gallery and its owners Walter Hopps and Irving Blum and tells the story of how a small group of artists such as Ed Kienholz, Larry Bell, Ed Ruscha, John Altoon, and Billy Al Bengston transformed American art.

Gerhard Richter - Painting (2012) Photo:

Gerhard Richter – Painting (2012) Photo:

6. Gerhard Richter: Painting (2012)

Providing a behind-the-scenes view of the studio of one of the world’s best (-selling) living painters, this film documents Gerhard Richter‘s creative process, showing the artist at work. A series of interviews with Richter, as well as some of his critics and contemporaries adds context to the artist’s oeuvre.

Tim's Vermeer (2014)  Photo:

Tim’s Vermeer (2014) Photo:

7. Tim’s Vermeer (2014)

American inventor Tim Jenison analyzes the revolutionary painting technique of the 17th century Dutch master Johannes Vermeer. Jenison sets out to find out how the painter was able to create photo-realistic works over a century before the invention of the camera.

Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present Photo:

Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present Photo:

8. Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present (2012)

The documentary follows the renowned performance artist Marina Abramovic as she prepares for her retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The film explores how the Serbian national redefined the understanding of what art is.

Guest Of Cindy Sherman (2008) Photo: imdb

Guest Of Cindy Sherman (2008) Photo: imdb

9. Guest of Cindy Sherman (2008)

Filmmaker Paul Hasegawa-Overacker, known for his Gallery Beat reviews of New York art shows in the 1990s, was invited to interview the reclusive photographer Cindy Sherman in her studio. After several interviews the filmmaker and the photographer fall in love and embark on a romantic relationship. This film offers viewers remarkably intimate, one-of-a-kind insight into the life of a notoriously camera-shy artist from the perspective of Hasegawa-Overacker, who struggles to come to terms with Sherman’s celebrity.

National Gallery (2014) Photo:

National Gallery (2014) Photo:

10. National Gallery (2014)

A fly-on-the-wall account of the National Gallery, London, one of the world’s most renowned museums with a stunning collection of canvasses by Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Turner and others. Filmmaker Frederick Wiseman explores the inner workings of modern cultural institutions, documenting the National Gallery’s administrative meetings, conservation, restoration and educational functions.

A New Documentary for the Forger Who Infiltrated America’s Art Museums (Hyperallergic)

by Allison Meier on September 26, 2014 original article here.

Mark Landis at home with recent forgeries is the subject of the Art and Craft documentary

Mark Landis at home with recent works (photograph by Sam Cullman, courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories)

For three decades, Mark Landis quietly infiltrated art museums across the United States with donated forgeries, works he carefully copied himself from the whole of art history. Paul Signac, Pablo Picasso, Hans Holbein, less-known names like Louis Valtat — sometimes they even went on display in the galleries. A new documentary called Art and Craftreleased today in Los Angeles, tries to figure out what compels Landis, with a sympathetic portrait of a very curious character.

Mark Landis at home, showing off recent works. CHARACTER NAME: Mark Landis PHOTOGRAPHER: Sam Cullman Courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories

Mark Landis at home, showing off recent works (photograph by Sam Cullman, courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories)

Directors Sam Cullman and Jennifer Grausman discovered his story through a 2011 New York Times article, which wouldn’t have existed if not for a man named Matthew Leininger. While a registrar at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, he discovered works Landis was supposedly donating had already been given to other museums. As he dug deeper, he realized just how far the web of forgeries stretched.

The film, however, is much more interested in Landis, although Leininger gets some brooding screen time. It’s obvious the filmmakers were a bit enamored with this small man with his tinny voice, Ignatius Reilly-level confidence, and clever handiwork — employing coffee to stain cheap Hobby Lobby frames to an antique patina, using colored pencils to replicate a chalk drawing, even showing us step-by-step how to make a new Picasso out of a printed copy and some shellac.

It’s clear from the film that the Mississippi-based Landis, whose speech is often a string of old movie quotes, became obsessed with the attention of being a museum donor, and the scenes with his case worker and interviews on his mental health suggest some psychological roots.”I got addicted to being a philanthropist,” he says, noting that it was seldom he had people so nice to him. Yet he adds: “I didn’t do anything wrong or illegal.” And he didn’t, no money was traded, no financial harm that could be prosecuted was done, it was only the integrity of the museums which was marred.

That isn’t the focus of the film, however, nor the possible implications on art value, or the time wasted with his forgeries. Yet Landis is a fascinating figure to watch, as he impersonates a priest, even inviting the filmmakers to witness one of his blatant fake donations, supposedly in honor of a non-existent dead sister. And as an exploration of the value and authenticity of art, it is as good a lesson as any to not take anything at face value, including an otherwise nondescript man whose skilled work may be on wider display than the artists he copied.

Mark Landis at home and at work on a “Picasso”. CHARACTER NAME: Mark Landis PHOTOGRAPHER: Sam Cullman Courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories

Mark Landis at home and at work on a “Picasso” (photograph by Sam Cullman, courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories)

Art and Craft is released today in Los Angeles. A full list of screenings is online

19 Art Documentaries You Shouldn’t Miss (Art Biz Blog)

By Alyson Stanfield on January 27, 2012 – original article here

The PBS series art: 21. A pioneering series on artists making art today. Don’t miss a single episode.

How to Draw a Bunny  – The mysterious art, life, death of Ray Johnson. I haven’t seen it in a long while, but it made an impact and is still at the top of my list.

The Woodmans – I watched this in 2011 and had to move it toward the top of the list. The artistic family of ceramist Betty Woodman, the tragic death of her talented daughter, photographer Francesca Woodman, and how their art triumphs. (The rest here are in no particular order.)

My Architect – The life of Louis Kahn, through his son’s eyes.

Glaring omission from the original list (thanks for catching it, John) – #20: Rivers & Tides – Follows “landscape sculptor” Andy Goldsworth as he creates ephemeral works of art using objects found in nature. Terrible website, by the way – not at all reflective of the film

Painters Painting – An amazing 2-part film featuring key figures in American art from 1940 to 1970.

Helvetica -Yep, a whole film about the typeface. Very fun to hear all of these designers talking about typefaces and visual communication.

Herb & Dorothy – Who hasn’t seen this lovely film about two unlike art collectors?

Valentino: The Last Emperor – I adored this movie about fashion designer Valentino. It’s gorgeous to look at.

Exit Through the Gift Shop – Banksy’s film about street art. Is it a documentary or not? It certainly makes us question how art is made.

Waste Land – More than a film about art, this is about an artist (Vik Muniz) affecting social change through art. The stories are heartwarming, the people are beautiful

Others Worth Watching

Rothko’s Rooms – About Mark Rothko’s Seagram paintings at the Tate Modern and the demand he put on exhibiting his work. Often available for viewing on OvationTV

Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision

Any film about Christo and Jeanne-Claude – All of them show the amazing, unconventional (and laden with red tape!) process that these artists go through to make their vision a reality.

The Rape of Europa – The story of American GI’s whose duty it was to return art stolen by the Nazis.

The Art of the Steal – Definitely a one-sided view of relocation of the Barnes Collection from Merion, PA to Philadelphia.

Sketches of Frank Gehry – The Sydney Pollack documentary about the famed architect.

Matthew Barney: No Restraint – An inside peek at Barney’s work, with his partner and collaborator Björk, aboard a whaling ship. A little too bloody for my taste, if I recall.

Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow – About the personal universe created by German artist Anselm Kiefer on the grounds of his estate in the South of France. Haunting soundtrack!