Top 5 Art Films Streaming This Holiday Season
Next time you find yourself about to curl up on the couch to watch a movie, consider watching any one of the following art documentaries. We’ve scoured Netflix for its 5 best art films, all with the promise to teach you various things about art history, artists and collectors (and entertain you in the process). So, here they are, in no particular order—enjoy!
1. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (2012)
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has built a reputation as one of the most powerful and influential contemporary artists as well as the most dangerous man in China. Directed by Alison Klayman, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry captures the artist’s adventures as he continually clashes with police and government officials while preparing for shows at the Haus der Kust in Munich and the Tate Modern in London.
2. Beltracchi: Art of the Forgery (2014)
Directed by Arne Birkenstock, this thought-provoking yet surprisingly amusing documentary on the life and misdemeanors of Wolfgang Beltracchi, who famously tricked the international art world for nearly 40 years selling forgeries of early 20th-century masters. Unabashedly, Beltracchi talks about forging hundreds of paintings that he sold to notable buyers—including Steve Martin—making himself and his wife millions. Most unexpectedly, his charisma and candidness throughout the film make it at once enlightening and highly entertaining.
3. Finding Vivian Maier (2013)
Until her death in 2009, Vivian Maier seemed an unassuming nanny, caring for families across Chicago and New York City in the later years of her life. However, Maier had a secret passion for photography, continually taking photos over the course of five decades. Ultimately, Maier left over 100,000 negatives, most of them shot in Chicago and New York City. Through the efforts of directors John Maloof and Charlie Siskel, the elusive photographer is unveiled as one of the most comprehensive and skillful street photographers in American art history.
4. Saving Banksy (2017)
Colin Day’s compelling documentary Saving Banksy rightfully honors the infamous street artist, Banksy, whose work (seen across public spaces all over the world) combines silhouetted figures with clever captions. However, the film acts as not only a tribute to Bansky, but as a pointed commentary on street art ethos clashing with an art world driven by profits. You’ll learn the true reach of Banksy‘s artworks, as graffiti enthusiasts and commercial art collectors alike are interviewed and express their perpetual appreciation for Banksy and his message.
5. The 100 Years Show (2015)
The director of Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, Alison Klayman, delivers another remarkable story about the Cuban-American artist Carmen Herrera. As a female abstract painter in the ’40s and ’50s, Herrera only found recognition as she approached her 100th birthday. The 100 Years Show documents the 99-year-old painter as she revels in success for the first time in her life. Herrera’s charm is irresistible and over the course of the (just 45 minute) film, you will find yourself cheering her on as she adjusts to her newfound popularity.
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