Five art films

  • 11 June 2013

Art biopics are all the rage this year, from Cannes-nominated Renoir to bohemian love-triangle Summer in February. If you'd rather watch from the comfort of your sofa, we've chosen our favourite artist-inspired films for a lazy summer evening.

1. Girl with a Pearl Earring, 2003

Based on Tracy Chevalier's novel, which in turn was based on Vermeer's masterpiece of the same name, this film follows the Dutch painter's relationship with his fictional maid and model Griet. The all-star cast includes Scarlett Johansson, Tom Wilkinson, Cillian Murphy and Colin Firth.

2. Frida, 2002

Not for the faint hearted, Julie Taymor's biopic of Mexican surrealist Frida Kahlo begins with impaling and ends in amputation. Despite touching on infidelity, assassination and alcoholism en route to its grizzly ending, the film isn't without a silver lining, as Kahlo moves from outsider to celebrated artist.

3. Lust for Life, 1956

Kirk Douglas plays Vincent Van Gogh in this classic biography, opposite Anthony Quinn's Oscar-winning rendition of Paul Gauguin. Douglas learned to paint in preparation for his performance, painting crows so that he could imitate Van Gogh at work.

4. Pollock, 2000

Directed by and starring Ed Harris, who worked on the film for almost ten years, Pollock traces the abstract expressionist's development from young artist to tortured celebrity. Pollock's colourful but tragic life takes centre stage: his alcoholism, neuroses, marriage to artist and manager Lee Krasner, affairs with Peggy Guggenheim and Ruth Kligman, and eventual death.

5. Andrei Rublev, 1971

Some art films have become more famous than the artists they took after, as in the case of Andrei Tarkovsky's depiction of the life of a Russian medieval icon painter. Not many people have heard of Andrei Rublev the artist, but the film is often hailed as one of the greatest arthouse movies of all time.