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Big Screening – Movies on Artists and their Lives



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Art is the most original form of expression with no technical effects or dimensional additions to its beauty, as it refreshes the minds of viewers to appreciate the nature around them. Makes you form your own imaginations and pour creativity and understanding of this natural essence in more gorgeous way! Sometimes, frames are just not enough to tell the stories behind the art and its creators. Hence, brilliant and curious filmmakers ran their minds over the storyline of these artists and turn their past and inspiration into the film reels of our language. Some of these were related to, by many of us, and others touched the others and somehow, they all were able to reach out to all of us. Interesting facts, not only about their artistic side but also, about their love and personal life and reasons that led them to their prestigious fame and popularity were mentioned onto the film screens in theatres, all over the world. And here we are, presenting you some of the finest artists on whose lives; these reels were reloaded in your hearts and inspired us to be creative in our natural forms. Some of them are really known around the world while some of them weren’t able to do well on the box office, but all of them had their time in acknowledging us.

Following is the list of all the movies based on artists and on the basis of chronological order:

**Watch out for the bonus movie**

1) Lust for life – 1956

Based on Artist: Vincent Van Gogh

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This was the first ever movie based on Van Gogh, though there are many more series and movies based on this artist (mentioned below), but this movie deserves to be in a separate highlight. Based on the novel of the same name, written by Irving Stone, defines the life path of Van Gogh, a brilliant artist in his times. Kirk Douglas played the role of this artist, with his brother Theo, in the movie. Among several awards, this movie has been on the nomination list of Oscars and had won the same in the category of “best supporting role – actor”. Even though his artworks have been a beautiful illusion in this drastic world, he has been a victim of the same too. The plot takes us from the changes in his lost love and family issues to how he was tortured by his unstable mind when he got himself admitted to a mental institution. Interesting!

IMDb ratings – 7.4/10


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2) Picasso – 1967

Based on Artist: Pablo Picasso

A documentary made in the year 1967, known as “Le Regard Picasso” or “The Mystery of Picasso”, showed the legendary artist Pablo Picasso in action, and showing him in the act of creating paintings for the camera. Most of the paintings were subsequently destroyed so that they would only exist on film, though some may have survived. The film begins with him, creating simple marker drawings in black and white, gradually progressing to full scale collages and oil paintings. This famous art movie wasn’t the first documentary showing Picasso painting images on glass plates from the viewpoint of the camera. The Belgian documentary film Visit to Picasso (1949) did it almost seven years earlier, but it didn’t touch the surface as this did.

IMDb ratings: 7.5/10


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Not only that but, it won the Special Jury Prize at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival and was shown out of competition at the 1982 Festival.


2.1) The Picasso Summer- 1969

Based on Artist: Pablo Picassopicasso.png

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A plot based ona couple who plan out a journey for their summers, in search of the famous artist – Pablo Picasso. Even though they fail themselves in meeting the artist, the couple’s interest and curiosity got them out to France and then to Spain, in search of him and his contacts. It ends on a comic scene when the couple, on their last day of unsuccessful trip, fails to see that Picasso is enjoying on the same beach as they were. This movie was suggested to inspire hearts and hence, Picasso did inspire that young architect and his wife to change their lives and abandon like Picasso has always done in his life with his artworks. Inspiration and creativity touched new streams of thunder in this movie with adventures in search of this artist.

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IMDb ratings: 5.5/10 

2.2) The Adventures of Picasso (1978)

Based on Artist: Pablo Picasso

The film is (very) loosely based on Pablo Picasso’s life and death, but every thing in the story plot is regarding and related to his study in art, and how he became with the fame and recognition. Not only that, the story ends when this artist is counting his last moments, but with a detailed scripted scenes of his death were shown with regards to his art. But he actually doesn’t die in the end and the ending is a cliff-hanger, dipped into emotions because, as we find out, Picasso is not really dead. When everyone has left the room he gets up, waves goodbye to his paintings and fades into the wall.

IMDb ratings: 7.6/10

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2.3) Surviving Picasso – 1996

Based on Artist: Pablo Picasso’s lover

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Even though the spotlight was not entirely on the artist or his life alone, his love life was given much importance to which the audience, curiously, followed and appreciated. The passionate Merchant-Ivory drama tells the story of Francoise Gilot, the only lover of Pablo Picasso who was strong enough to withstand his ferocious cruelty and move on with her life. As the producers were unable to get permission, to show the works of Picasso in the film, the film is more about Picasso’s personal life rather than his works, and where it does show paintings, they are not of his more famous works. When Picasso is shown with his most famous painting Guernica, the camera sits high above the painting, with the work only slightly visible. His life was full of women, but only one stole his heart and this movie’s spotlight.

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IMDb ratings: 6.4/10

2.4) Picasso in Munich – 1997

Based on Artist: Pablo Picasso

You might be shocked to see how this plot starts from a dead Picasso, but it happens and the movie ran through weird paths of this artist. The painter Picasso awakes from the dead, steals one of his paintings from a psychiatrist’s and his wife’s kitchen and wanders through Munich, where he meets the psychiatrist’s patient, Takla Bash, and falls in love with her. Ignoring that she is actually his daughter he plans a phenomenal love affair including a film about a blue cow. This surreal film includes many of director/writer/star Herbert Achternbusch’s own paintings. Love for art and his daughter, caught by the audience, painted this movie with fame.

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IMDb ratings: 5.5/10

2.5) Minotauromaquia – Short Film – 2004

Based on Artist: Pablo Picasso



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This opportunity, visual, was given all the curious viewers out here, who always wanted to get the secrets and ways to the creativity that these artists polish on the framed canvases. This movie is actually a trip into Picasso’s creative mind. We enter his imagination to find the creatures and stories that populated his psyche. His imagination is presented as the myth of the maze and the Minotaur, and some of the characters in the piece are in Picasso’s real paintings – his famous dove, the Minotaur, and the ladies of Avignon, among many others.

IMDb ratings: 7.2/10

“Art is a lie that leads us closer to the truth.” – Pablo Picasso

3) Vincent Tv Movie – 1981

Based on Artist: Vincent Van Gogh

Here we are with the other segments of visual world of the famous artist – Vincent Van Gogh. It was actually a TV movie, produced and made in 1981, that ran for 1hour and 30mins approx. It was a one-man filmed play of Leonard Nimoy’s adaptation of “Van Gogh” (1979) by Phillip Stephens. Those points aside, this is indeed a very interesting program, and goes beyond just the play. Set against a backdrop of the artist’s iconic works, the innovative production draws material from the hundreds of letters exchanged between van Gogh and his brother, Theo. Nimoy portrays the parts of both siblings.


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IMDb ratings: 8.5/10

3.1) Vincent – 1987

Based on Artist: Vincent Van Gogh

Even though Van Gogh was declared to be a tortured person, throughout his life and was given least importance for his humanity, lesser than art; this movie is a retake starring him and his brother – Theo Van Gogh. This documentary on the life of artist Vincent Van Gogh is told through his letters to his brother Theo from 1872 until his tragic death. We gain first hand insight into the man, his motivations and his humanity. Known as “Vincent: The Life and Death of Vincent van Gogh”, the screen images consist of a wide selection of the paintings and sketches, shown in a chronological sequence, supplemented by shots of the locations he lived in, and a number of dramatised reconstructions of biographical events.


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IMDb ratings: 7.3/10

3.2) Vincent and Theo – 1991

Based on Artist: Vincent Van Gogh (and his brother Theo Van Gogh)

Even though these two brothers have covered almost the entire spotlight of the films based on this famous artist, this plot was allotted more to Theo than Vincent. The familiar tragic story of Vincent van Gogh is broadened by focusing as well on his brother Theodore, who helped support Vincent. The movie also provides a nice view of the locations which Vincent painted. The film portrays several of the better-known episodes of this period of the brothers’ lives, including Vincent van Gogh’s move from his brother’s apartment in Paris to Provence, Theo van Gogh’s establishment of an art gallery in Paris.

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IMDb ratings: 7.1/10

3.3) Van Gogh (1991)

Based on Artist: Vincent Van Gogh

Even though separate installments of this artist’s life have shown us how his brother and his psychiatrist have had a great role to play in his life, this movie summarizes it to the core. Set in 1890, the film follows the last 67 days of Van Gogh’s life and explores his relationships with his brother Theo, his physician Paul Gachet (most famous as the subject of Van Gogh’s painting Portrait of Dr. Gachet), and the women in his life, including Gachet’s daughter, Marguerite. Many awards were taken by a thunder for this movie and it got a place in various nominations’ list. That’s not all, the film was entered into the 1991 Cannes Film Festival.

IMDb ratings: 7.3/10


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4) Frida Still Life – 1983

Based on Artist: Frida Kahlo


This film is all about the famous painter and how it all evolved in her life from polio effects to marriage to miscarriage. It is a chronicle of painter Frida Kahlo, and her encounter with the personalities of her time. Despite being confined to a wheelchair as a result of polio, operations and amputations, she faces and traces some of the most colourful and controversial aspects of Mexican history. She evokes memories of her childhood, of the streetcar accident that caused her terrible pain and affliction, her friendship with Trotsky and painter Alfaro Siqueiros, her marriage to Diego Rivera, her miscarriage, her political commitment, her love affairs and the anticipated exhibition of her works.


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IMDb rating: 7.2/10

4.1) Frida – 2002

Based on Artist: Frida Kahlo

Though the last movie was all about her personal life, from childhood till maturity, this plot is expanded and shared with her professional life. A biography of artist Frida Kahlo, who channelled the pain of a crippling injury and her tempestuous marriage into her work. Frida Kahlo lived a bold and uncompromising life as a political, artistic, and sexual revolutionary.


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IMDb ratings: 7.4/10

5) Dali – 1991

Based on Artist: Salvador Dali


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Biography of famed artist Salvador Dali, focusing mainly on his relationship with girlfriend Gala and the time they spent in New York City in 1940 and his early days in Spain.

IMDb ratings: 6.6/10

5.1) The Death of Salvador Dali – Short Film – 2005

Based on Artist: Salvador Dali

The plot of this 2005 fantasy film brings the paranoiac, flamboyant Dali into the office and head-space of an unsuspecting Sigmund Freud. When Salvador seeks Freud’s assistance to inject madness into his art, tables are turned, student becomes teacher, and doctor becomes patient. Unwittingly subjected to chaos, deception, and guns, Freud and madness itself become mere ingredients in Dali’s grand, secret agenda.


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IMDb ratings: 7.4/10

5.2) Little Ashes – 2008

Based on Artist: Salvador Dali

With a touch of homosexuality background to this plot between the painter, Salvador himself, and a poet – Federico García Lorca. Even though in later parts from the conclusions derived, in Salvador words, he and Federico didn’t share any romantic or any sexual bond as he wasn’t homosexual. The plot revolves around how they both met, and one night of romance and mistakes, departed both of them. The story ends when Salvador is engaged to a woman and meets Federico again, and he sees how Salvador is a changed man in his life and politics of relationships.

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IMDb ratings: 6.6/10

6) Girl with a Pearl Earning – 2003

Based on Artist: Johannes Vermeer

This movie is actually based on how the talented painter – “Johannes Vermeer”, came up with his famous painting “Girl with a Pearl Earring” – which is also the title of this movie. It revolves around a young peasant maid working in the house of painter Johannes Vermeer, becomes his talented assistant and the model for one of his most famous works.


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There’s a play too? – “Girl with a Pearl Earring”

It is a 2008 play. Adapted by David Joss Buckley from the novel of the same title by Tracy Chevalier, it premiered at the Cambridge Arts Theatre. It then received its London premiere at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on 29 September 2008, directed by Joe Dowling and designed by Peter Mumford. Its London run had been scheduled to end on 1 November, but after largely poor reviews and in a poor financial climate, it closed early on 18 October, 2008. 

7) Klimt – 2006

Based on Artist: Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt’s life story unfolds in a series of disjointed sequences in the artist’s mind as he lies dying of pneumonia in a Viennese hospital, where he is visited by a friend. Their conversation take turns and turns into different phases of this film and his life, in whole. Themes within the film include Klimt’s platonic friendship with Emilie Floege. Much of the film is centred on Klimt’s relationship with Lea de Castro, a dancer to whom he is introduced in the film itself. Not that of all, but a portrait of Austrian artist Gustav Klimt whose lavish, sexual paintings came to symbolize the art nouveau style of the late nineteenth, and early twentieth century.

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IMDb ratings: 5.2/10

Those were some of the famous artists who left their prints and stories, embedded in the canvases of their imaginations. But their were many in the History of Indian Art as well who were able to make their way through to the surface and showcase their talent. Watch out for the next movie, you might have heard about the censorship board going crazy behind the production team but it was worth a watch.



Rang Rasiya – 2008 (London Film Festival)

Based on Artist: Raja Ravi Varma


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This Indian Painter gave our imagination of our God, a whole new face and image but couldn’t keep it for long. This story revolves around his life of getting into and out of his love which left a huge irreversible scratch on his career as a painter. His first two paintings of Lakshmi and Saraswati are praised but after the woman start feeling love for him, she seduces him. He then starts a relationship with her, which destroys his inspiration, and he starts painting inappropriate images, which brings anger in people. Even though the film was first released and shown in 2008, at the London Film Festival, it got released in 2014 in India, after conflicts with censorship and getting its rights done.


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Look Out! This wasn’t our bonus movie for you all! Scroll for one more, precious, most recent movie from our hand-picked collection:



BIG Eyes – 2014

Based on Artist: Margaret Keanne


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What’s so special about this title?

Keane is famous for drawing paintings with big eyes and mainly paints women, children, and animals in oil or mixed media. 

A drama scripted for this movie tells us the story of her obsession with big eyes, in her every painting. The movie revolves around her story from her first divorce and her second marriage to her second husband, who is also an artist and they team up to cut out their living costs. She stayed at home painting and he sold their paintings at their “Keanne Gallery”. But all this is more of an illusion that lasted for a short while when the movie’s end scene revolves around her fight for her rights on the painting. All she ever cared for was credits on her paintings and not money, which she proves in the end with a sign as an ending note.

IMDb ratings: 7/10

Who doesn’t appreciate her voice, who sang the theme song for this movie – Big Eyes. The title and the name of the movie are just the same. Must Listen!

Lana Del Rey – “Big Eyes”


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These artists won heart of every viewer and art enthusiasts who appreciated their artworks and their life stories, depicted on the big as well as small screens. Even after they passed away, they are well known to us and they reside in their heart as a memory of their inspiration that took our minds to illusionistic journeys. A BIG thankful to note all the people who came up with these plots and produced such magnificent movies. These movies are the artworks of such talented people who were able to visualize the stories of the legendary artworks and artists.

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