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  • Writer's pictureJoel Popadics

Ten Great Movies About Art

Since many of you know I'm a movie buff, I thought it would be fun to list my top ten movies about art and/or artists. With Netflix, Amazon Prime and all the other on-demand options, I'm sure it'll be easy to revisit a few of these.

10. The Art of Love (1965) A comedy starring Dick Van Dyke about the ironies of posthumous fame. In this film, an artist stages his own death in order to increase the value of his work. What a concept! The premise is far better than the script, but I enjoyed it anyway.

9. Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003) Colin Firth plays the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, and Scarlett Johansson is a maid who poses for his famous painting, "Girl with the Pearl Earring". Very little is known about the real model's history, so the film raises more questions than it answers.

Movie poster from "Rembrandt" starring Charles Laughton

8. Rembrandt (1936) I saw this movie on television when I was a teenager. Charles Laughton portrays one of the greatest painters of all time, highlighting Rembrandt's unconventional life and power as an artist. Casting Laughton as Rembrandt works for me!

7. Spellbound (1945) I know it's not about an artist, but I got a kick out of the Salvador Dali dream sequences that he created specifically for this Alfred Hitchcock classic. I'm a huge Hitchcock fan and I've seen all of his movies. I love how visually descriptive he is; there are stretches in all of his movies where he tells his story with little or no dialogue.

6. Picture of Dorian Gray (1945) The "Picture of Dorian Gray" is a great horror movie based on the Oscar Wilde novel. The story is not about an artist, but rather, a painting. Take a look at the preface to the novel. Amazing insights into artists and critics: "No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved."

5. Moulin Rouge (1952) Jose' Ferrer as Toulouse-Lautrec. Based on the novel by Pierre La Mure, the film takes you to 19th-century Paris, where the artist experiences a turbulent, bohemian life.

4. Sirens (1994) A comedy starring Hugh Grant and Sam Neill based on the true story of Australian artist, Norman Lindsey, set in the 1930s. Not a plot- driven movie, but a whimsical film with a great mood.

3. Vincent and Theo (1990) "(Creating art) is such a joyous activity that I am at a loss to understand how an artist could ever be unhappy, and yet so many are. Perhaps, like God, they grieve when man ignores their handiwork" - Roger Ebert from his review. Robert Altman directed this movie about Vincent Van Gogh, and his relationship with his brother, Theo.

Charlton Heston as Michelangelo in "The Agony and the Ecstasy"

2. The Agony and the Ecstacy (1965) Charlton Heston is Michelangelo in this classic movie based on the Irving Stone novel. Rex Harrison plays Michelangelo's foil, Pope Julius II. A really well acted movie starring two solid actors from the past.

1. Andrei Rublev (1969) This international film is about the 15th Century Russian Icon painter, Andrei Rublev. The movie is deep, so layered, and well done. But, perhaps the best part is the creation of a massive iron church bell. One of the most memorable parts of the movie is watching the drama unfold during the bell's production, while being aware of the dire consequences if the bell maker fails!

Did your favorite movie about art or an artist make my list? Let me know if you've got one that I may have missed.

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