HOME MOVIES: FILMS THAT BRING ARTISTS TO LIFE
Today, things should finally slow down. Today, I hope you can begin fully to relax and enjoy the holiday. In that spirit, I suggest an alternative to going somewhere for your art fix: How about a movie at home? These are some of my favorite ones about artists, spanning five decades. Most are available through cable or online. I'm not saying they're the best movies ever made or that they're necessarily accurate in a documentary sense, but they catch the essence of their subjects and brought me enjoyment through the years. Happy holidays!
Big Eyes (2014)
This film tells the bizarre story of Walter and Margaret Keane and the paintings of big-eyed, melancholy children that made them wealthy. Walter foisted a hoax on the world, claiming he was the artist while Margaret was the one doing all the work. It's an interesting psychological study, starring Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz.
Salma Hayek portrays the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, whose tempestuous marriage to muralist Diego Rivera (played by Alfred Molina), severe health problems and feminist fierceness influenced her most famous works, her self-portraits.
A movie about a man who spends his days dripping paint onto canvases would be as interesting as — wait for it — watching paint dry. On the contrary, Jackson Pollock was a complex, fascinating character, and we see him in the context of the abstract expressionist movement, becoming a star and a self-destructive jerk. Ed Harris is stellar as Pollock.
Even more than Pollock, this movie about Jean-Michel Basquiat puts us in the center of 1980s New York and its art scene. Basquiat gained acclaim as a young man for his intense, mysterious works incorporating social and ethnic tropes. His extraordinary gifts were overshadowed by his drug addiction, and he died of a heroin overdose at 27. The movie plays fast and loose with details of his life, but Jeffrey Wright's fine performance as the artist redeems it.
My Left Foot (1989)
Daniel Day-Lewis: Has he ever made a bad movie? This biopic has the actor playing Christy Brown, who had cerebral palsy and only had the use of his left toes. Including this film in my list is probably a stretch since Brown is far better known for his writing than painting, but it's such a good movie I had to.
Lust for Life (1956)
I can't recommend this as an introduction to the life of Vincent van Gogh, nor is it a spirited "interpretation" of the artist. But it was the first movie I remember seeing that portrayed an artist, and I have loved van Gogh's post-impressionist paintings since childhood. It seems dated, but the newish use of color film back then gives it washes of gorgeous hues. Kirk Douglas just doesn't seem tortured enough for van Gogh, but Anthony Quinn won an Oscar for his portrayal of Paul Gauguin.
COMING ALONG: NEW CHIHULY COLLECTION LOCATION
The new Chihuly Collection still doesn't look like much, but renovations are going strong in the space in the 700 block of Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, across the street from its mothership, the Morean Arts Center. The collection, which features vessels and installations by world-famous glass artist Dale Chihuly, is pulling up stakes at its original location on Beach Drive for roomier quarters that will allow for a larger gift shop, exhibition space for other glass artists and plenty of room for special events and private parties.
While you're cruising down Central Avenue, take a peek. The photograph here shows how expansive it's going to be. The opening is scheduled for fall 2016.