Cinema and the art world met again in the latest award-winning film ” Turner ” dedicated to the life of the famous painter JMW Turner, one of the most important exponents of British art history, who lived between the 18th and 19th centuries century. Last film, in chronological order, of a long series of films that found inspiration in the biographical stories of the artists. From Michelangelo to Pollock, from the tormented and short life of Modi to the secret love between Jan Vermeer for the young Greet, there are many names of the great painters who have inspired the world of cinema.
Below we propose the 15 most famous films dedicated to the great painters. 1. THE TORMENT AND THE ECSTASY (1965)
The life of Michelangelo, from the commission to the conclusion of the Sistine Chapel at the behest of Pope Julius, in a film by Carol Reed with Charlton Heston in the role of the great artist. Buonarroti goes through agonizing moments of despair and insecurity, but his work makes him discover abilities that he did not believe he possessed. 2. THE GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING (2003)
In the Netherlands of the second half of the seventeenth century, the young Griet (Scarlett Johansson) finds herself serving in the house of master Johannes Vermeer (Colin Firth), one of the greatest Dutch painters of the seventeenth century. Their cultural and social differences do not prevent the painter from discovering in the girl a particular predisposition to art: he will make her the muse of her as well as model for a portrait that will remain an icon of Flemish painting. Accomplicing glances and silences full of emotions fill the baroque atmospheres of which the film by the British Peter Webber is a skilful witness. 3. THE LIFE OF LEONARDO DA VINCI (1971)
It is a RAI television script with a biographical background on the life of Leonardo da Vinci, written and directed by Renato Castellani and interpreted by Philippe Leroy. The film, in installments, retraces entirely and in great detail the entire life of Leonardo da Vinci, from his birth to his death in France in the arms of King Francis I. 4. THE COLORS OF THE SOUL
Amedeo Modigliani known as Modi, an Italian painter of no fortune and suffering from tuberculosis, has lived for some years in Paris leading a life on the edge of begging, consuming drugs and demonstrating a strong Gascon character, so much so as to irritate one of the great painters of every era, the most famous colleague Pablo Picasso who, madly jealous of his talent, openly challenges him to participate in a competition between artists: the best painting will be rewarded with a large sum of money. In alternating editing between reality and flashbacks, we retrace the last year of Modi’s life. 5. THE LAST INQUISITOR (2006)
We are in Spain, in the year 1792 (the year in which the French Revolution begins to have repercussions outside the borders of France). Francisco Goya has now become not only one of the greatest painters, but the official court artist and therefore is painting the portraits of Queen Maria Luisa of Bourbon-Parma. In addition to the royal family, he accepts commissions to portray him in his studio, among others, the inquisitor Lorenzo Casamares and Ines Bilbatua, young and beautiful daughter of the rich merchant Tomas Bilbatua, who for the artist represents a sort of muse inspirational. 6. THE COLORS OF PASSION (2011)
Directed by Lech Majewski with Rutger Hauer, and a film inspired by the 1564 painting, the “Ascent to Calvary” by the Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder and based on the book by Michael Francis Gibson: “The Mill and the Cross”. 7. BASQUIAT (1996)
Inspired by the life of the young Jean-Michel Basquiat, who died of a heroin overdose in 1988, the film depicts the artist’s conflictual relationship with drugs, relationships and his own art: it begins by selling pictures for a few dollars but once he has achieved success he is unable to take advantage of it to change his life, nor to maintain important contacts such as the one with Warhol who had also believed in him from the beginning. 8. LITTLE ASHES (2009)
Set against the backdrop of Franco’s Spain, the film focuses on the early years of three artists, the Spanish painter Salvador Dali, the director Luis Bunuel, and the poet Federico Garcia Lorca, from their meeting at university to their success. 9. ARTEMISIA. EXTREME PASSION (1997)
And the story of Artemisia Gentileschi, adolescent daughter of the painter Orazio, who scandalized everyone in the sixteenth century for a relationship with the young artist Agostino Tassi. To scandal was added scandal, because Tassi painted male nudes. 10. FRIDA (2002)
Directed by Julie Taymor, is a film focused on the painful private life of the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, played by Salma Hayek. 11. KLIMT (2006)
History of the Austrian Gustave Klimt (John Malkovich), a painter who represents the new artistic style of the 9th century, Art nouveau. Aroused scandal for the erotic nature of his painting and he was banned from the official circuit, later giving life to the so-called ‘Viennese Secession’. He became a supporter of young artists, as well as his friends, such as Oskar Kokoshka and Egon Schiele. 12. LOVE TO LIVE (1956)
The troubled life of Vincent Van Gogh. From his experience as a missionary in the coal mines in Belgium to his beginnings as a painter in Paris, to his interlude in Arles with his friend Paul Gauguin, up to his suicide, in a cornfield, during one of his violent depressive crises. The film won Anthony Quinn (Gauguin) the second Oscar of his career (but Kirk Douglas narrowly missed the statuette and he deserved it). Based on the life of the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, starting from the novel of the same name by Irving Stone. 13. SURVIVING PICASSO (1996)
The film narrates the life of the artist Pablo Picasso (played by Anthony Hopkins) from a different point of view from what art books tell: his private life, his feelings and his loves are exposed through the off-screen narration. by Francoise Gilot (played by actress Natascha McElhone), his mistress, with whom he had two children. The book “Picasso: creator and destroyer” by Arianna Huffington and the work from which the film is based, but chapters from the book “Vivre avec Picasso” by Francoise Gilot are also used, where we see a different Picasso, almost bewildered by so many passions and feelings he feels for his works and for his women. 14. POLLOCK (2000)
Based on the life of Jackson Pollock, one of the greatest painters of abstract expressionism, the film begins in 1950, as the artist is resumed signing autographs during a vernissage at the Betty Person Gallery exhibition reviewed by Life magazine; the painter and at the height of his career. However, it is only a flash because the plot of the film goes back nine years when Pollock was still looking for success. 15. CARAVAGGIO (1986)
The English underground director Jarman comes from painting and in representing the life of Caravaggio uses continuous pictorial references. Psychological and with many historical fantasies, it is a provocative film in the style of the director of “Sebastian”. Very suggestive. There is also some reference to the cinema of the master Ken Russell, for which Jarman studied the sets.

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