Blog: Inspiring Art Films

Our Inspiring Art Film Picks for Lockdown

With a cold start to the new year and many of us having to spend more time indoors, we decided that it would be a good idea to remind you of some of the compelling films that have been made about art and artists that you can watch in the comfort of your home.

Also included are our choices of the best free art documentaries and a look at a selection of our gallery artists - can you recognise which pioneers of the art world have influenced them?


Frida (2002) 

A captivating and deeply insightful dramatisation of Frida Kahlo's life. The 2002 film which sees Salma Hayak portraying the Mexican artist, chronicles her life from the traumatic accident she suffered as a teenager through to her tumultuous relationship with renowned Mexican Muralist Diego Rivera. The film is rich in its cinematography, story and energy; a fascinating insight into the life of a fascinating artist. Available to rent on Amazon Video.

'They thought I was a Surrealist but I wasn't, I never painted dreams, I painted my own reality'


Loving Vincent (2017)

A pioneering work of art in itself, this is the first ever feature-length painting animation film. Exploring the last few days of Vincent Van Gogh's life, the director Dorota Kobiela, who had originally trained as a painter before her film-directing career, was inspired to combine the two artforms by following Vincent Van Gogh's own words - 'we cannot speak, other than by our paintings'. 125 artists painted thousands of paintings to create this mesmerising film. Available to rent on Amazon Video.

Find out more about how the film was created below.

How it was made


 Mrs Lowry and Son (2019)

There have been mixed reviews of this film as some believe it does not delve into the artist and his work enough. However, the film effectively demonstrates the artist's need to create and interpret the world around him despite the barriers surrounding him. The film focuses on the relationship between Lowry and his cantankerous and somewhat bitter mother who does not approve of his passion to paint urban streets and industry. There is certainly a bleakness and sadness to the film, but it highlights the social biases and attitudes of the time and ends with positivity at the recognition of Lowry's art and the importance of the representation of working class life in art. Available on Netflix


 Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)

A satirical thriller/horror, this film is not to be taken too seriously. It is off-beat, certainly unique and the bright lighting belies the dark undertones of the film. Set around the high-end Los Angeles art scene, the plot is based around the discovery of a recently deceased artist's work. The characters may not be particularly likeable due to their superficiality or lack of morality, but these traits are what makes this the sardonic film it is meant to be. Convoluted at times, chaotic, gory but good fun! Available on Netflix


Boom for Real:The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat (2018)

Perhaps this feature-length documentary does not give a thorough analysis of Basquiat's art itself but it is a riveting film that conveys the street art and music cultures that emerged as a result of the social deprivation that was 1970's New York. Looking at Basquiat's late teenage years leading up to his success in the artworld, the film highlights his desire to constantly create and his unwavering ambition despite his situation of living on the streets. It is a contextual film that demonstrates how society informs culture and how these movements become heard in the mainstream and can break artworld constraints.  Available Free with Amazon Prime


The Last Vermeer

Released at the end of 2020, The Last Vermeer is based on a book and true story by Jonathan Lopez about dutch artist and art dealer (and forger) Han van Meegeren. Charged with collaborating with the Nazis to sell a Vermeer painting resulting in a death penalty sentence, find out how van Meegeren was able to prove his innocence.

Look out for the DVD release coming soon and take a look at the trailer above.

Our Pick of Free Art Documentaries

L.S Lowry: The Industrial Artist -  click to take you through to this 1973 documentary on the BFI Player where Lowry discusses his art. If you have not discovered it yet, this is the British Film Institute's video on-demand service where you can find critically-acclaimed classic, archive and cult films.


Keith Haring: Street Art Boy - click to take you through to this engaging documentary on the BBC iPlayer. A good friend of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring was one of the revolutionary figures in 1980's pop-culture art. The film features previously unheard and insightful interviews with the artist.


Scandal & Beauty: Mark Gatiss on Aubrey Beardsley -  Looking back to the 19th century, follow the link to take you through to the BBC iPlayer documentary about the intriguing Victorian artist Aubrey Beardsley. Taking a journey through Beardsley's brief but very full artistic life, we discover what inspired and led to the success of the unconventional and notorious artist and illustrator.


Can you spot which of the above pioneering artists have had an influence on our pick of gallery artists below?  Click images to view individual collections

Matt Wilde - Contemporary artist capturing vibrant scenes of people as they go about their day to day lives in the urban environment.

Leigh Lambert - our best-selling contemporary artist inspired by social history and his father's stories of life in the industrial north in the 1950's and 60's.


David Wilde - the late Northern artist David Wilde was an acquaintance of L.S Lowry however he was concerned with depicting the industrial north with dynamic, Vorticist-influenced approach where his aim was to capture and emphasise every colour present in the environment. 


Dirty Hans - One of our most successful, contemporary digital artists with an initial background in graffiti and street art, pop-culture influences have been at the forefront of Dirty Hans' art portfolio.










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