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19 Art Movies Available to Stream Now, From an Appreciation of Banksy to Dueling Documentaries on the Knoedler Scandal


The past year has been a tough one for the movie business. But despite the widespread closure of theaters and delays in releases, an impressive bunch of films related to the arts have come out.

From dueling documentaries on the infamous Knoedler forgery scandal to biopics on artists M.C. Escher David Wojnarowicz, here are 19 new art movies and where to stream them.

 

Driven to Abstraction (2020)
Amazon or iTunes ($4.99) and in virtual theaters

Undoubtably one of the biggest art scandals of the 21st century, the Knoedler forgery ring saw the eminent U.S. gallery sell some $80 million in forged mid-century masterpieces. Those involved said they did so unknowingly, despite an unverifiable provenances, wildly anachronistic materials, and, most damningly, a misspelled signature. Daria Price covers it all in this documentary. (Bonus: The film features expert commentary from Midnight Publishing Group News’s senior market editor Eileen Kinsella.)

 

Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art (2020)
Netflix (free with subscription)

Knoedler forgery scandal, take two. This documentary interviews Ann Freedman, the gallery’s president, and a central figure in the forgery ring. She presents herself as the scam’s biggest victim—but was she actually its mastermind?

 

Wojnarowicz: F–k You F-ggot F–ker (2020)
In virtual theaters

Chris McKim draws on the audio journals of the late artist David Wojnarowicz—plus commentary from the likes of Fran Lebowitz, art dealer Gracie Mansion, and art critic Carlo McCormick—to paint a full picture of the queer painter, photographer, writer, and activist, who died in 1992 of AIDS. The obscene title comes from a graffiti message that Wojnarowicz found scrawled on the street and appropriated for his art.

 

Marcel Duchamp: The Art of the Possible (2019)
iTunes ($4.99), Amazon ($4.99)

Artist Matthew Taylor directs a love letter to Marcel Duchamp, who changed the course of art history not once, but twice. First with his Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2, which ignited controversy at the 1913 Armory Show in New York even as it ushered the Modernist movement into the mainstream, and then with The Fountain, his urinal “readymade” that became a legendary Dada masterpiece.

 

Museum Town (2019)
In virtual theaters

Jennifer Trainer, who spent decades as the head of public relations at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts (and is married to Joseph C. Thompson, its former director), directs a film celebrating the institution and the way it revitalized a rural town after local factories shut down. Meryl Streep offers some star power as the documentary’s narrator.

 

Ursula von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own (2019)
Vimeo ($3.99), iTunes ($4.99), Amazon ($4.99)

Artist Ursula von Rydingsvard, known for her monumental wooden sculptures, shaped from towering cedar trunks, offers a behind-the-scenes look at the studio machinations that make her large-scale public artworks possible.

 

Pat Steir: Artist (2020)
YouTube ($3.99), Amazon ($3.99)

Novelist and filmmaker Veronica Gonzalez Peña spent two years interviewing the painter Pat Steir in this intimate portrait of the groundbreaking feminist artist and her beloved “waterfall” paintings, made by dripping, splashing, and pouring paint.

 

Lifeline: Clyfford Still (2019)
YouTube ($2.99), Amazon ($3.99)

For this documentary, director Dennis Scholl gained access to the personal life of Abstract Expressionist Clyfford Still in the form of 34 hours of audio recordings of the artist, as well as interviews with his daughters, Diane Still Knox and Sandra Still Campbell.

 

Carlos Almaraz: Playing with Fire (2019)
Netflix (free with subscription)

Carlos Almaraz was a Los Angeles artist and Chicano art activist who died of AIDS in 1989. His widow, artist Elsa Flores Almaraz, along with actor Richard J. Montoya, co-direct this Netflix documentary about his life and legacy, including his struggles to come to terms with his identity as a Chicano and his bisexuality. Watch to find out why David Hockney, Richard Diebenkorn, Jack Nicholson, and Cheech Marin have all been fans of Almaraz’s work.

 

Black Art: In the Absence of Light (2021)
HBO Max (free with subscription)

This HBO documentary is largely narrated by artist and curator David Driskell, who died last year. The film explains the influence of his seminal 1976 group show “Two Centuries of Black American Art,” and features prominent Black artists working today, including Theaster Gates, Kehinde Wiley, and Jordan Casteel,

 

Aggie (2020)
YouTube ($2.99)

After decades of supporting institutions behind the scenes—including more than a decade heading the board at the Museum of Modern Art—New York City art philanthropist Agnes Gund gets her moment in the sun with this documentary directed by her daughter Catherine Gund.

 

Feels Good Man (2020)
YouTube ($3.99)

Illustrator Matt Furie never could have predicted the afterlife of Pepe the Frog, a character from his comic book series Boys Club. This documentary from Arthur Jones unravels the mystery of how the slacker frog morphed first into an internet mascot and a symbol of hate for the alt-right—and how Furie attempted to reclaim his most famous creation.

 

Martha: A Picture Story (2020)
Amazon Prime (free with subscription)

Martha Cooper, who in the 1970s became the first female staff photographer at the New York Post, has made a name for herself as the foremost documenter of graffiti art in New York City. Now, her unlikely career is itself the subject of a documentary film, directed by Selina Miles.

 

The Painter and the Thief (2020)
Hulu (free with subscription)

Norwegian filmmaker Benjamin Ree found a pair of unlikely documentary subjects in Barbora Kysilkova, a Czech painter, and Karl-Bertil Nordland, a thief that stole two of her paintings. The movie tracks their unlikely relationship as Kysilkova attempts to paint a portrait of the heavily tattooed criminal who committed the robbery because, she says, “they were beautiful.”

 

Gustav Stickley: American Craftsman (2020)
First Run Features ($10)

You might not know the name Gustav Stickley, but the late designer was a key figure in the American Arts and Crafts movement, which rebelled against industrialization. Director Herb Stratford provides a full picture of Stickley’s life and career, and what’s behind his lasting significance.

 

M.C. Escher: Journey to Infinity (2019)
In virtual theaters

The mind-bending work of M.C. Escher, known for his optical illusions, was an exploration of both art and mathematics. Director Robin Lutz explores the evolution of the Dutch printmaker’s increasingly intricate work, animating his illustrations to stunning effect, with voiceovers from actor Stephen Fry.

 

Banksy Most Wanted (2020)
iTunes (£7.99)

This documentary from Aurélia Rouvier and Seamus Haley explores the various theories as to the identity of anonymous British street artist Banksy and praises his high-profile stunts, like Love Is in the Bin, the shredding of a Balloon Girl print after it sold at auction. It’s likely to be enjoyed most by diehard Banksy fans (one talking head apparently claims that “Banksy is the Picasso of the 21st century”).

 

Paint (2020)
YouTube ($3.99)

In this indie film, directed by Michael Walker, three art school grads are determined to navigate the New York art world, even if they that means resorting to blackmail, betraying their friends, and—perhaps worst of all—painting their own mothers in the nude. (Full disclosure: a group of real-life art-world professionals were called in as extras in the penultimate scene at a gallery opening, so keep an eye out for the writer.)

 

Beyond the Visible (2019)
YouTube ($3.99)

Director Halina Dyrschk continues the important work of restoring the legacy of pioneering Swedish painter Hilma af Klint, who began experimenting with abstraction five years before it was “invented” by Wassily Kandinsky. The film recounts Klint’s life and career, her descent into obscurity, and ultimate rediscovery, including the blockbuster 2019 exhibition of her work at the Guggenheim Museum New York.

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Sotheby’s Turns Its Staff Into Jewelry Mannequins as In-Sale Advertising Opens New Revenue Stream + Other Stories


Art Industry News is a daily digest of the most consequential developments coming out of the art world and art market. Here’s what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 2.

NEED-TO-READ

The Louvre Has Launched Its Own Online Store – As lockdown continues to keep much of the public away from museums, the Louvre has launched an online store to tempt art fans to open their wallets from home. Offerings include a t-shirt from Uniqlo designed by Peter Saville featuring the Mona Lisa; a snow globe that holds JR’s famous installation on the building’s exterior; and a series of Swatch watches depicting famous artworks including Eugène Delacroix’s Liberté, égalité, fraternité. (Journal des Arts)

How Three Arts Leaders Are Living in Lockdown – Adam D. Weinberg, Shirin Neshat, and Ariana Rockefeller share what they are up to during the lockdown. Weinberg, the director of the Whitney Museum, has been reading The Freedom Artist by Ben Okri. Artist Neshat says she worked on finishing her film, Land of Dreams, which stars Isabella Rossellini, Matt Dillon, and Sheila Vand. And designer and heiress Rockefeller has been attending to her five horses in England. (New York Times)

UK Art Students Say They Are Being Pushed to Work Less – A higher education funding body, UK Research and Innovation, has asked students to adapt their doctoral projects and theses due to funding cuts caused by the coronavirus crisis. Now, some 770 academics have signed a letter criticizing the move. While the funding body says “the priority for students now is to… adjust research projects to mitigate the delays caused by COVID-19,” one student says that the body is instead asking students “to produce less rigorous and ambitious projects because they cannot offer us the proper funding or protections.” (The Art Newspaper)

Emmett Till’s Chicago Home Is Now a Landmark – The house of Emmett Till, who was brutally murdered in 1955 at 14 years old after being falsely accused of whistling at a white woman, has been declared a historic landmark by Chicago’s city council. Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, continued to live in the apartment at 6427 S. St. Lawrence Avenue until 1962. Blacks in Green, a local nonprofit, purchased the property last year and plans to transform it into a museum. (Hyperallergic)

ART MARKET

Is Product Placement the Future of Art Auctions? – Last week’s Old Masters sale at Sotheby’s was padded with product placement from a sponsor: luxury jeweler Bulgari. During the event, auctioneer Oliver Barker mentioned that he was wearing a watch by the brand and specialists were decked out in Bulgari earrings, necklaces, and brooches. In a way, the partnership makes sense: Sotheby’s is streaming into scores of rich people’s houses. It’s better than advertising on Hulu. (The Art Newspaper)

Derek Fordjour Heads to David Kordansky – The acclaimed painter has joined the roster at Los Angeles-based David Kordansky. The gallery will present a new, monumental piece by Fordjour online in April and a solo exhibition in spring 2022. The artist will continue to be represented by Petzel gallery in New York. (ARTnews)

COMINGS & GOINGS

Influential Stedelijk Museum Curator Dies – Rini Dippel, a former longtime curator and deputy director of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, has died. Dippel, who was born in 1931, worked at the museum for more than two decades and organized shows by Richard Serra, Ellsworth Kelly, and Gilbert & George. (ARTnews)

Taipei Museum Names New Director – The Taipei Fine Arts Museum has named artist, curator, and educator Jun Jieh Wang as its new director. She replaces Ping Lin, whose abrupt resignation followed criticism from city officials of political content in an exhibition she co-curated at the museum in October. Wang currently serves as associate professor at the Department of New Media Art at Taipei National University of the Arts. (Art Asia Pacific)

The Gwangju Biennale Pushes Back Opening  South Korea’s major art exhibition will push back from its original opening date of February 26 to April 1. It will still close, as planned, on May 9. (That’s a pretty short run for all that work!) (ARTnews)

FOR ART’S SAKE

Martine Syms Will Host a Museum’s Podcast – Looking for a new podcast (other than the Art Angle, of course)? The Carnegie Museum of Art is launching a weekly mini-series called Mirror with a Memory. The six-part podcast will be hosted by American artist Martine Syms and will explore the intersections of photography, surveillance, artificial intelligence, and society. Artists Sondra Perry and Stan Douglas will be among the guests. (Press release)

Tony Cokes Lights Up London – Throughout February, artist Tony Cokes will bring his text-based works to the large billboard at London’s Piccadilly Circus. With 4 Voices / 4 Weeks, Cokes will present his own interpretation of words from singer John Lydon, theorist Judith Butler, civil rights hero John Lewis, as well as Elijah McClain, a 23-year old Black man who died from a chokehold at the hands of police in 2019. (Press release)

 

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