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How to appreciate art from the safety of your home

Recommendations for art films, books and projects for those isolating during the coronavirus pandemic.
Three of artist Nick Cave's Soundsuits. Watch the documentary "As Is by Nick Cave" on Amazon Prime Video.
Three of artist Nick Cave's Soundsuits. Watch the documentary "As Is by Nick Cave" on Amazon Prime Video. [ Courtesy of Nick Cave ]
Published Mar. 17, 2020


From documentaries to scathing thrillers that take jabs at the art world, you can be steeped in art simply by streaming.

Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-qiang (Netflix)

Follow the Chinese contemporary artist who uses pyrotechnics as his medium while he attempts his most ambitious project to date.

As Is by Nick Cave (Amazon)

The visual artist known for his wearable sculptures called soundsuits spent a year in Shreveport, La., engaging a small community to help him create “As Is,” a one-time multimedia performance.

Velvet Buzzsaw (Netflix)

This satire of the contemporary art world stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a pretentious art critic who discovers a dead artist’s paintings. Things take a supernatural turn when the works become murderous, exacting revenge on the greedy players in the art world.


Do a deep dive on artistic movements.

Ninth Street Women (2018) by Mary Gabriel is a 716-page chronicle of the five women — Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler — who broke into the male-dominated art world of abstract expressionism. Gabriel gives each woman her own chapter and weaves in intimate details about their lives and career paths.

I’ve Seen the Future and I’m Not Going (2019) is Peter McGough’s memoir about his life with artist David McDermott in the 1980s downtown New York City art scene. During that time, they collaborated as artists and lived and dressed in the Victorian-style circa 1920s, while they were going to Studio 54 and rubbing elbows with Keith Haring and Andy Warhol.

The Guerilla Girls’ Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art (1998), by an anonymous group of feminists dedicated to equality in the art world, covers the history of women being objectified and also highlights female artists’ success stories.


Use this downtime to create something of your own. Scour YouTube for projects or tutorials. One fun resource is Artists Works for Libraries, free art and music lesson videos provided by the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative.