By Faron Manuel
Whether you’re simply looking for a cool artsy flick to stream for a date night, something to watch solo, or for some strange reason you just like to stroll through random lists on the Internet, there’s something here for you. Considering how finding just the right movie can be a drag—sometimes the right movie-plug is all we need to find something new and interesting to watch… The list of 5 movies to “Netflix and Chill with an Artist” follows, enjoy!
1. Basquiat,1996
Delving into the mind of the now larger than life visual artist Jean-Michel Basquiat; with this flick, viewers reserve an opportunity to realize the complexity of not only his creative fervor, but the trials and triumphs that motivated his art. In a moving performance, Jeffery Wright portrays Basquiat’s evolution from a homeless street artist that went simply by the moniker SAMO into a monumental figure whose fame transcended museum and gallery spaces; all the while battling internal afflictions and a loosing bout with substance abuse. Imbuing elements of subtle comedic relief with intense drama, and classic 1980s aesthetics, this film should definitely be on your watch-list for a date night or solitary viewing. Also, this is a great primer before checking out Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks if you’re in Atlanta through early summer 2016.
2. Frida, 2002
Examining the life of a favorite artist, and muse of the masses—Frida showcases the depth of the intriguing and mysterious Frida Khalo. Starring Salma Hayek, this biopic, romantic drama details a woman that literally transformed her tragedy into artwork (see her body-cast above). Additionally, the drama lays bare the romantic, tumultuous, draining, fulfilling, and philosophical nature of her marriage to her contemporary, Diego Rivera.
In a well deserved screen adaptation of the Mexican born artist’s life, with particular scenes being overlaid and even expressed via Khailo’s work, this movie literally becomes a moving curation.
3. Stripped, 2014
Stripped (no pun intended) is a film about stripping of the ‘funnies’ from a dying newspaper industry. With in-depth interviews of comic artist in a wilting arts industry that once thrived. With nostalgic references to comics many of us grew up with like Garfield, Peanuts, and Popeye. Detailing how previously these cartoonist were major stars at one point [with the closest thing to a famous comic artist today being Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder]. Quite frankly, this is not a film I’d choose for a date night, but it was still pretty interesting to say the least…
4. Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present, 2012
Naked, loud, hungry, sadistic, irrelevant! All words that can, and have been used to describe the performance art of Marina Abramovic. Putting on performances that test the limits of not only her body, but society as well; earning herself the nickname, the Yugoslavian born Provocateur. Pictured above, sitting across from her companion, Ulay, as done in the same fashion with other museum goers; Abromovic holds that position for hours on end, pondering the person juxtaposed to her… As a caveat, spectators of this exhibition, entitled The Artist is Present were only able enter the space by walking between a nude couple standing in a small passage leading to this gallery space at MOMA. Of this social experiment and her past performances, even Abromovic begs the question: “What makes this art?”
The film, documenting her career as a performance artist, Marina Abramovic: The Artist is President also is a timeline of Abramovic’s preparation for her show at MOMA (which was also the inspiration for Jay-Z’s video for the track, Picasso Baby). For this particular film, interesting is definitely an understatement; as featured archival footage displaying series of past performances like The Relation Works, which focuses on conflict and collision of human bodies (yes, you read that correct!) make this film and her performances distinctly fascinating—TO WATCH
5. Finding Vivian Maier, 2013

Finding Vivian Maier Official Trailer from MSP Film Society on Vimeo.

Previously unsung photographer extraordinaire, and longtime nanny, Vivian Maier (if that’s her real name… -_-) compiled a now storied, informal archive of negative images over a period of nearly three decades. A discovery uncovered by ‘picker’ and documentary filmmaker John Maloof at a New York City auction. The collection of undeveloped photographs revealed much about the progression of New York’s culture from the 1950s-70s once developed, and made available to the public in a widely successful Chicago exhibition. Maier’s portfolio can be viewed on the collections website.

All in all, these films are not only great for a date night, or rendezvous with friends. They all are conversation pieces that provide valuable insights into the ‘Art World’ as both a tangible and intangible structure: being that each surveys the life and career of artist from both traditional and nontraditional backgrounds. Hope I didn’t give too many spoilers…

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