Artists on Film at the Oscars


Artists on Film at the Oscars

Artists on Film at the Oscars


Once the New Year Gala and Super Bowl have aired, it’s time for the Oscars. Painting and film have always been inseparable with many famous directors growing up around painting. The lives of famous painters have also given movie creators inspiration and material. With the Oscars near, we’ve compiled a list of movies about famous artists. Turner (2014)

Mr. Turner (2014)

 Mike Leigh

Director: Mike Leigh

 Mike Leigh

Writer: Mike Leigh

Timothy Spall/Dorothy Atkinson/Marion Bailey

Starring: Timothy Spall, Dorothy Atkinson, Marion Bailey

Production Country: United Kingdom, France, Germany

Mr. Turner follows the story of the 19th Century British Romanticist painter J. M. W. Turner. The film portrays the artist’s incredible life from his time as an emerging artist to his later illness and death. It was nominated for several Oscars at the 87th Academy Awards.

Turner’s artistic talent was recognized early on by the painting community. He enjoyed depicting natural phenomena and natural disasters. The sea, storms, and shipwrecks were some of his favorite subjects. Later in his career, he began to focus on the changes in light on the surface of the sea and in the sky. He slowly moved away from detailed portrayals, instead adopting principles of the Impressionists. Turner would use watercolor technique with oil paints, using a thin layer of color to depict light. At the same time, Turner also received criticism for his unrefined appearance, eccentric demeanor, and avant-garde style.

Director Mike Leigh is an expert at portraying painters and cleverly depicted not only the artist’s eccentric personality but also the struggles in his tumultuous life. Within the subtle narrative, Turner is a three-dimensional character. Through setting and filming technique, the director showed the changes in the color pallet and depiction of light in Turner’s work.

 Pollock (2000)

Pollock (2000)

Director: Ed Harris

Writers: Barbara Turner, Susan Emshwiller

Starring: Ed Harris, Marcia Gay Harden, Tom Bower

Production Country: USA

Pollock tells the story of the painter Jackson Pollock, renowned in America as a true artist. Pollock’s avant-garde style and daring technique made him one of the most important modern painters in not only America, but around the world.

Pollock had a natural eccentricity and kept to himself.  His contradictory and wild personality sparked his creativity, and also him towards deep agony. He became known for his “drip” technique. As a “pure abstract painter”, Pollock’s pieces are subjective and emotional. His works inspired many artists in America and Europe. Tragically, in 1956, Pollock died at age 44 in a car crash while driving under the influence. Marcia Gay Harden won “Best Supporting Actress” for her portrayal in the film at the 73rd Academy Awards. Ed Harris was also nominated for “Best Actor”.


Renoir (2012)

Director: Gilles Bourdos

Jérome Tonnerre

Writers: Jérome Tonnerre, Michel Spinosa, Gilles Bourdos

Starring: Michel Bouquet, Vincent Rottiers, Christa Theret

Production Country: France

Renoir is a 2012 French film based on the experiences of the Impressionist painter Renoir later in his life. The film tells the story of a model, Andrée, who heightens Renoir’s passion for art and falls in love with his son, Jean Renoir.

Image from the film/Official still shot

Renoir is a film rich in poetry. The director’s focus on light and shadow perfectly captures the lead character’s charm and vitality. As a representative of Impressionism, the colors on Renoir’s canvas were transferred to the screen with lifelike accuracy. The film was nominated for an award at the 65th Cannes Film Festival and was the French pick for “Best Foreign Language Film” at the 86th Academy Awards.

 Goya's Ghosts (2007)

Goya’s Ghosts (2007)

Director: Miloš Forman

Writers: Miloš Forman, Jean Claude Carrière

Starring: Natalie Portman, Javier Bardem, Stellan Skarsgård

Countries: America, Spain

This film tells the story of Spain’s most renowned painter, Francisco Goya, and his fight to save the young model Inés in a fierce confrontation with the Spanish Church.

Image from the film/Official still shot

After winning an Oscar for Amadeus, this is the second collaboration between director Miloš Forman and producer Saul Zaentz. Goya’s Ghosts not only gives the audience a look into Goya’s extraordinary life, but also recreates the turbulent time period. The film not only tells Goya’s story, but also his conflicts and intrigue with other characters in an exciting story.

Caravaggio (1986)

Carvaggio (1986)

Director: Derek Jarman

Writer: Derek Jarman

Production Country: United Kingdom

 Noam Almaz / Dawn Archibald

Starring: Noam Almaz, Dawn Archibald, Sean Bean

Carvaggio is a biographical film. The director paints the life of “Rome’s most renowned painter” in rich detail. The film reflects the director’s thoughts on sex, criminal activity, and art.

Image from the film/Official still shot

It is worth mentioning that Director Jarman is also a painter. Jarman said he showed great respect to the great painter Caravaggio. He is not only interested in Caravaggio's work, but also shows great interest in his life. The film's style and subject is unique which gives people a fresh view from different levels. The film was previously awarded the Berlin International Film Festival Silver Bear Award in 1986.

Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003)

“Girl with a Pearl Earring”( 2003)

(Peter Webber)

Director: Peter Webber

(Olivia Hetreed)

Writers: Olivia Hetreed,Tracy Chevalier

Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Colin Firth

Country of Production: UK / Luxembourg

“Girl with a Pearl Earring” is a British and Luxembourg co-production film in 2003. The title of the biography novel had shared the same name from Johannes Vermeer's famous oil painting “Girl with a Pearl Earring.” The movie has adopted the same technique of bright color shot as Johannes Vermeer.

Movie screenshots / official stills

Griet was working as a maid in Vermeer’s household whom have a poor upbringing. Vermeer's mother-in-law and his wife are giving Griet a hard time which makes her feel very frustrated. Vermeer and Griet are fond of each other. However, with the identity gap, Griet knew it was impossible to be with Vermeer. She volunteered to be Vermeer's model, lived in the beloved person's painting.

Fermel and Rembrandt are often referred to as the greatest painters of the Dutch golden age, and his works value composition, and the use of light and shadow. In terms of space and the expression of the characters, his paintings display a sense of tactile appeal and realism.

The original painting of “Girl with a Pearl Earrings” is currently stored in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Moreira, The Hague, in Netherlands.

 La banda Picasso (2012)

"Picasso Gang" (also translated as "Who stole Mona Lisa") La banda Picasso (2012)

Director: Fernando Colomo

Writer: Fernando Colomo

Stars: Ignacio Madison / Pierre Berez

Country of Production: Spain

"Picasso’s Gang" is a Spanish film directed by Fernando Colomo. The film is inspired from how Picasso found himself entangled in the stunning theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in Paris in 1911. While the Mona Lisa was eventually recovered and found to have been stolen by a Louvre employee, Picasso was initially suspected of having taken part in the theft, which affected his relationship with some of the other artists working in Paris.

Image resource:

In addition to the "Picasso’s Gang", the Picasso film as the theme of the grotesque comedy "Picasso's Aventyr", documentary "The Mystery of Picasso" and the unreleased “33 days.” In addition, Picasso also appeared as a minor character in other films, such as Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris".

"Edvard Munch" (1974)

Director: Peter Watkins

Writer: Peter Watkins

 Geir Westby / Gro Fraas / Kerstii Allum

Stars: Geir Westby / Gro Fraas / Kerstii Allum

Country of Production: Sweden / Norway

Following a rough chronology from 1884 to 1894, when Norwegian artist Edvard Munch began expressionism and established himself as northern Europe's most maligned and controversial artist.

The film also flashes back to Munch’s struggling childhood, brief love affair and his political participation in Berlin.

 Movie Screenshot/ Official Stills
As a Norwegian expressionist painter, Munch's work reflects his strong spirits and feelings. His approach to the expression has played a significant impact on German expressionism. Munch 's masterpiece "Scream" was regarded as “a symbol of extreme agony in industrial modernization.”

Klimt (2006)

9. Klimt (2006) Director: Raúl Luz

Writer: Raúl Luz

Stars: John Markovic / Veronica Ferrer / Nicole Kinsky

Country of Production: Austria / France / Germany / United Kingdom

" Klimt" is a biographic film about the life of Klimt. At the end of the nineteenth century, Klimt was a brave and innovative painter. The possibility of contagion doesn’t stop Klimt from continuing his sexual rampage. His studio is crowded with beautiful nude models, many of whom he beds. This film describes Klimt’s unique relationship with many female characters. Many women are adoring him which makes him to pursue and create boundlessly in art.

Movie screenshots / official stills

Although the story is fictitious, the film is based on the historical records of Klimt's character. He founded Vienna Secession, and his paintings are characterized by a special symbolic decorative pattern. The main characters in the paintings is are mostly women, the themes are often around the cycle of "sex", "love", "life" and "death".

 "Camille Claudel" 1988

Director: Bruno Nuytten

Marilyn Goldin

Writers: Bruno Nuytten / Marilyn Goldin

Stars:  Isabelle Adjani/ Gérard Depardieu / Alain Cuny

Country of Production: France

"Camille Claudel" depicts the story of the 43-year-old Rodin and the 19-year-old Camille despite their age difference. Camille is Rodin's student, assistant, and lover. During a passionate love affair that lasted for ten year, Rodin has created remarkable artworks.

Movie screenshots / official stills
The film is based on the adaption of the historical story. According to Rodin's last wish, fifteen pieces of Carmel's sculptures have been on display at the Rodin Museum. It shows the world that she has an irreplaceable position in the heart of Rodin. The film won the best Oscar foreign language film nomination and best actress nomination in 1990.

Video Information Source: Wikipedia, Baidu Encyclopedia, Douban Movie.

Image Source: official stills, movie screenshots etc.

Author: Li Dili. Art lovers, museum practitioners.

Translated by Zoe G. Brunell & Fang  Jin