Top 5 Movies about Artists Based on Real Events Every Art Student Must Watch

If you are seriously into art, you are most likely to perceive the world visually. A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. That is why a good movie will save you dozens of red-eyed nights spent over a book, even if a good one. While books can provide you with tons of useful biographical information, films can offer something much more valuable. Together with the actors, you will dive into the authentic atmosphere that nourished the great artists. These 5 movies based on real events are an absolute must for every art student. They will give you a unique opportunity to peep behind the curtains of the mysterious world of art.

1. Basquiat (1996)

If you think that this list should start with a Leonardo Da Vinci biography or a Raphael biopic, our choice is going to take you by surprise. Jean Michel Basquiat never painted frescos, but, in fact, he did a lot of wall-painting. This iconic New York street artist managed to turn the contemporary art conventions upside down and impress none other than Andy Warhol. Basquiat worked his way up from the streets into the most fashionable galleries. Yet, his upward flight did not make him complacent and docile. The film reveals the revolutionary side of the artist’s nature and his ability to think outside the box. This movie is highly recommended for everyone who believes that art is an expression of the free spirit and boundless creativity.

2. Frida (2002)


Frida is one of those rare biographical films that are no less visually mesmerizing than the pictures of the artist they are telling about. Salma Hayek creates a vivid and convincing portrait of Frida Kahlo, the world-famous surrealist Mexican painter. Her Frida is a woman you can either love or hate. The film weaves biographical facts and Kahlo’s surreal fantasies into one multicolored fabric. Art, love, and death come together in this explosive cinematographic mix. Frida is a perfect film to help you explore the way personal experience, pain, and passion are transformed into inspiration.

3. Modigliani (2004)


If you have always believed that the only true artists live in Paris, drink a lot, are miserable, die young and penniless, you will not be disappointed. This film will definitely prove you right! It tells a story of Amedeo Modigliani’s struggle to win Paris’ annual art competition in a desperate attempt to provide for his illegitimate child. Modigliani, played by Andy Garcia, is a lost soul and a genius that “Modiglianized” the portrait genre. He belongs to that very kind of a charismatic personality that one can hardly relate to but cannot help admiring. This atmospheric biopic epitomizes the spirit of Paris at the beginning of the XX century, the time when great ordeals gave birth to great art. Why not seize this opportunity to time-travel?

4. Maudie (2016)

If Amedeo Modigliani struggled to achieve fame but never lived to see one of his nudes sold for a stunning sum of $150 million at Sotheby’s, the heroine of this biographical movie has never aspired to sell any of her works. Maud Dowley, suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, is a humble housekeeper living in Nova Scotia. In an attempt to cheer herself up and bring some happiness into the life of Everett Lewis, a brusque fish seller that hires her, Maud starts painting. The brave woman takes her tiny chance to make the world a better place through her art and succeeds against all the odds. Uplifting and inspiring, this film will remind you that art can change lives.

 5. At Eternity’s Gate (2018)

It is an established fact that no art-related list can do without a mention of Van Gogh’s name. There are only too many films based on his life, but At Eternity’s Gate is a drama you will not want to miss. It portrays the great artist during the time that he spent in a self-imposed exile in Arles and Auvers-Sur-Oise, France, painting his most significant masterpieces. Willem Dafoe, starring as Van Gogh, gives a performance of an unrivaled psychological depth. Van Gogh believed he could see the world in a way nobody else could. This film will allow you to get a glimpse of his unique vision. Such an experience would be illuminating. After watching this film, it will also be easier to write about Van Gogh’s masterpieces for your art studies. And if you struggle with organizing your thoughts or finding compelling arguments for your art analysis paper, you can use some help from

With these 5 films, you will travel to Mexico, France, and Canada without leaving the comfort of your home. You will meet artists of different calibers. You will step into the shoes of the Dutch genius and the revolutionary New York street-artist and experience their failures and victories at first hand. But, most importantly, you will witness the transformative power of art and its life-changing ability to bring the light into the darkest of times.

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