Most people into becoming a successful artist understand it’s important to learn as much technique as possible. What many forget: it’s just as important to understand how art gets made – that is, to gain insight into how great artists think, live, and create.

Our “age of information” puts it all at our fingertips, but where to start? A deep dive on a single, compelling (to you) historical master at a time is a great idea. Also, it’s best to read actual art books about your artist of choice: find out what they wrote and said, and what other artists wrote and said about their work.

By all means, see whatever films you can too! Movies about artists can be a great introduction to the great names you should know.

Not long ago, a link I shared to a master list of  films about artists led to an artfinder forum maintained by artist Daniela Roughsedge. After varied reports about access to that list, Daniela has kindly posted a direct link on her website. Click the link to see the master list and enjoy browsing her fine work while you’re there.

Many of you wrote to me directly to share your favorite films about artists. So here, in no particular order, are the recommendations (most of the images are clickable, and will take you to previews).

Mr. Turner








Nineteenth century artist JMW Turner was not only arguably the greatest British painter and the greatest landscape/seas-scape painter the world has ever produced, he was also a weird and grumpy little man who kept his passions, like his secrets, to himself. In terms of dramatic action, not much “happens” to “Mr. Turner” in this movie, but the actor who plays Turner digs deep into the artist’s personality. Mr. Turner tells it – if not like it was, at least enough like it must have been to give us a memorable flavor of his life and times.

Edvard Munch

This one comes from reader John Thomsen. Edvard Munch isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but show me a great artist who is? Munch’s stubborn determination and honesty of expression, despite a life of tragedy and alienation, should be an inspiration to all.


















Camille Claudel

Bernadette Grimes wrote in for Camille Claudel. Claudel’s is an all too familiar story that needs to be told again and again: younger, talented female artist becomes the mistress of an older, established male artist; the torrid, illicit affair ends in her getting kicked to the curb; she dies in obscurity. Decades later, she finally gains a measure of recognition for the originality and quality of her work – but still she isn’t nearly as famous as the man who overshadowed her. Apparently, Camille Claudel destroyed most of her own work in grief and rage when Rodin ended their affair and stopped supporting her.










For the rest of her sad life, her mother and brother had her committed to an asylum. This happened to many volatile women whose outrage over unfair treatment posed “inconvenient” (and often expensive) challenges to immediate family and/or threats to the reputations of powerful men. Here’s a page of “10 things to know” to peruse while waiting for a full article on her to appear here in your inbox some time hence.

Loving Vincent

I was surprised no one mentioned Loving Vincent, the hand-painted! biopic. Visually gorgeous and dramatically compelling, it’s one of the best, and it’s viewable free of charge right here on Vimeo.

Andrew Wyeth

Reader and watercolorist Bruce Poulterer recommended two films about Wyeth:

#1. 2018’s Wyeth is a fabulous survey of the life and times of the great realist of Maine that strips away some misunderstandings and assumptions to get at the private man and his singular obsessions.











#2. You can view Snow Hill, the official, authorized biopic, produced by Betsy Wyeth and directed by artist Bo Bartlett, right here, free of charge.

Donna Lee wrote to tell us she and her partners in crime used to have full, participatory art movie nights, where they’d pair an art film with related drinks, food, and sometimes outfits as well. Now, SIGN ME UP FOR THAT. (how much better would that have made 2022? SO much.) Her faves are:

Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus
Camille Claudel (see above)
Modigliani, (Donna notes that this film has a great soundtrack but that the book is much much better than the flick)
Surviving Picasso, a 1996 Merchant Ivory film starring Anthony Hopkins.  

Reader Robert G. Brito concurs about Modigliani, a 2004 biopic that focuses on the visionary and tragic modernist’s rivalry with Picasso.

Roberts other recommendations are:

Cezanne et Moi, a French film, 2016

Renoir, a French film, 2012

A real Vermeer, 2016

The last Vermeer, 2019

The forger, 2011

In addition, he points to these freely viewable artist movies watchable on Tubi TV:

Kurara. The Dazzling Life of Hokusai’s Daughter, Japan (2017)

Seraphine, France (2008)

Mrs Lowry and Son, Britain (2019)

And finally, he highly recommends Waldemar Januszczak and his series Perspective, an art history show viewable free on Youtube.











Also, artheart14 points us to another free movie on Youtube, a fun one, the 1958 Technicolor classic, The Horse’s Mouth











And finally, Janet Buell nominates Van Gogh: Painted in Words as a favorite artist biographical film. It’s a BBC production, and stars Benedict Cumberbatch in Van Gogh’s role. You can watch it complete here.

Thanks to everyone who wrote in to share their favorite movies about artists!

Pair your inspiration and knowledge with sound technique. In our age, there’s a fast-track to learning technique in the form of detailed, professional teaching videos covering key skills and concepts. Browse the available titles online here.