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The Agony and The Ecstasy (1965)
Directed by Carol Reed, starring Charlton Heston as Michelangelo and Rex Harrison as Pope Julius II. The film was partly based on Irving Stone's biographical novel of the same name. Tagline: "A raging era of titans, popes and princes... of conspiracy and conflict... of turmoil and transgressions... Of a man among men... of magnificence!”


Andrei Rublev (1969)
is a 1966 Russian film directed by Andrei Tarkovsky from a screenplay written by Andrei Konchalovsky and Andrei Tarkovsky. The film is loosely based on the life of Andrei Rublev, the great 15th century Russian icon painter. "Sight and Sound" magazine called it "one of the top 15 films of all time.”
Andrei Rublev was not intended to be an historically accurate biography as little is known about Andrei Rublev. Even what is known about him is obscure and mysterious. This allowed Tarkovsky to construct his story relatively free and to imagine Rublev's biography. Tarkovsky and his co-screenwriter Andrei Konchalovsky worked for more than two years on the script, studying medieval writings and chronicles and books on medieval history and art.


Les amants de Montparnasse (1958)
The Lovers of Montparnasse also known as Montparnasse 19, is a French/Italian film chronicling the last year of the life of the Italian painter Amedeo Modigliani who worked and died in abject poverty in the Montparnasse Quarter of Paris. Directed by Jacques Becker Starring Gérard Philipe, Lilli Palmer, Lino Ventura, and Anouk Aimée.


Artemisia (1997)
The story of the Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi.Directed by Agnès Merlet and starring Valentina Cervi, Michel Serrault, Miki Manojlovic. Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1653) was one of the first well-known female painters. The movie tells the story of her youth, when she was guided and protected by her father, the painter Orazio Gentileschi, and her professional curiosity about the male anatomy, at that time forbidden territory.


Artist (2000)
is a 10 minute art video by artist Tracey Moffatt comprising of clips from movies and television programs depicting artists at work, at play and in the act of creation. You will recognise many. You'll laugh out loud! (also made "Heaven" (1997) and "Lips" (1999).


The Artist and the Model (2012)
The Artist and the Model (French: L'artiste et son modèle) is a 2012 French-language Spanish drama film directed by Fernando Trueba. "In the French Pyrenees during the middle of the Second World War, the aging sculptor Marc Cros (the masterful Jean Rochefort) hungers to create one lasting masterpiece. When Marc’s wife Lea (Claudia Cardinale) and their Spanish housekeeper Maria (Chus Lampreave) chance upon Merce (Aida Folch), a pretty Catalan refugee living on the streets, they take her home in the hopes of igniting Marc’s imagination. A muse is born, and the vulnerable Merce begins daily sessions posing nude for Marc, as he struggles to match her perfection in one last great sculpture. Merce gives of her beauty; but receives many unexpected gifts from Marc, including a powerful glimpse of art through the eyes of an artist. Nominated for 13 Goya Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director". — Jaie Laplante


Basquiat (1996)
Basquiat tells the story of the meteoric rise of youthful artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Starting out as a street artist, living in Thompkins Square Park in a cardboard box, Jean-Michel is "discovered" by Andy Warhol's art world and becomes a star. But success has a high price, and Basquiat pays with friendship, love, and eventually, his life. Directed by Julian Schnabel and starring Jeffrey Wright as Jean Michel Basquiat, Michael Wincott, Benicio Del Toro, Claire Forlani, David Bowie as Andy Warhol, Dennis Hopper, Gary Oldman, Christopher Walken and Willem Dafoe.

Jeffrey Wright as Jean Michel Basquiat, David Bowie as Andy Warhol


La Belle Noiseuse (1991)
A beautiful 237 minute film directed by Jacques Rivette and starring Michel Piccoli, Jane Birkin, and Emmanuelle Béart. The film is loosely adapted from the short story "The Unknown Masterpiece" by the nineteenth-century French writer Honoré de Balzac;
A famous but reclusive painter, Frenhofer (Piccoli) lives quietly with his wife and former model (Birkin) in a large château in rural Languedoc-Roussillon. When a young artist visits him with his girlfriend Marianne (Béart), Frenhofer is inspired to commence work once more on a painting he long ago abandoned - La Belle Noiseuse [The Beautiful Troublemaker]. - using Marianne as his model.


Camille Claudel (1988)
Camille Claudel is a 1988 French movie about the life of the 19th century female sculptor Camille Claudel. The movie was based on the book by Reine-Marie Paris, granddaughter of Camille's brother, the poet and diplomat Paul Claudel. It was directed by Bruno Nuytten, co-produced by Isabelle Adjani, and starred her and Gérard Depardieu.
Camille Claudel's relationship with the older, and more famous, Auguste Rodin (Depardieu) is the centerpiece of this film which in 1989 received five César Awards.


Caravaggio (1986)
Directed by Derek Jarman, Caravaggio is a fictionalised re-telling of the life of Baroque painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, and explores the love triangle of Caravaggio (Nigel Terry), Lena (Tilda Swinton) and Ranuccio (Sean Bean) and dwells upon Caravaggio's use of street people, drunks and prostitutes as models for his intense, usually religious paintings.
Lena was Tilda Swinton’s first film role. The film also features Robbie Coltrane, Dexter Fletcher, Michael Gough and Nigel Davenport. The cook Jennifer Paterson was an extra.
The production designer was Christopher Hobbs who was also responsible for the copies of Caravaggio paintings seen in the film.


Carrington: Emma Thompson, with Jonathan Pryce as author Lytton Strachey.

Carrington (1995)
Fine biographical film written and directed by Christopher Hampton about the life of the English painter Dora Carrington (1893–1932), who was known simply as "Carrington". The screenplay is based on biographies of writer and critic Lytton Strachey (1880–1932) by Michael Holroyd. The film, starring Emma Thompson in the title role, focuses on her unusual relationship with the author Lytton Strachey, played by Jonathan Pryce, as well as with other members of the Bloomsbury Group. With Rufus Sewell as Mark Gertler. Music: Michael Nyman.


CINEMA DALI (France / Spain, 2004)
With the total cooperation of the Salvador Dali Foundation, director Xavi Figueras' investigative documentary reorganises and returns to the screen the cream of over 40 hours of rare archival images from around the world, shedding new light on the eccentric life of the quintessential surrealist. Although he left an indelible mark on cinema, the true scope of Dali's movie ambitions has not been examined until now. Most film lovers know Dali's big-screen work from his unique collaboration with Luis Buñuel on the landmark Un Chien Andalou (1929); his own avant-garde masterpiece, L' Âge d'or (1930); the wonderful fantasy sequence from Hitchcock's Spellbound (1945) and the long-lost collaboration with Disney Studios, Destino. But Dali, with his exceptional creative ambition and monomaniacal drive, had grand plans for a new kind of cinema. He aimed to challenge all notions of representation and incorporate the other art disciplines he was involved in. The force of Dali's personality, his wealth, and celebrity connections enabled him to indulge and experiment. The often bizarre, and always startling, results are on show here for the first time.


The Draughtsman's Contract (1982)
"Archly-humoured Victorian conceit that combines both a 17th century country house murder-mystery with a witty treatise on sex, lies and draughtsmanship."
Mr. Neville (Anthony Higgins), a young and arrogant artist and something of a Byronic hero, is contracted to produce a series of 12 landscape drawings of an estate by Mrs. Virginia Herbert (Janet Suzman) for her absent and estranged husband. Part of the contract is that Mrs. Herbert agrees "to meet Mr. Neville in private and to comply with his requests concerning his pleasure with me."
A fascinating 1982 British film written and directed by Peter Greenaway. Originally produced for Channel 4 the film is a form of murder mystery, set in 1694. The period setting is reflected in Michael Nyman's score, which borrows extensively from Henry Purcell, and in the extensive and elaborate costume designs (which slightly exaggerate those of the period for effect). The action was shot on location in the house and formal gardens of Groombridge Place, a moated Manor house near Tunbridge Wells, Kent.


Dreams (Yume) (1990)
A magical realism film based on actual dreams of the film's director, Akira Kurosawa at different stages of his life. The film is based more on imagery than on dialogue. A brilliantly coloured vignette features director Martin Scorsese as Vincent Van Gogh. An art student finds himself inside the vibrant and sometimes chaotic world inside Van Gogh's artwork, where he meets the artist in a field and converses with him. The student loses track of the artist (who is missing an ear and nearing the end of his life) and travels through other works trying to find him. The visual effects for this particular segment were provided by George (Star Wars) Lucas and his special effects group Industrial Light and Magic.


Edvard Munch (1974)
A biographical film about the Norwegian Expressionist painter Edvard Munch, written and directed by Peter Watkins. It was originally created as a three-part mini series co-produced by the Norwegian and Swedish state television networks, but subsequently gained an American theatrical release as a three-hour version in 1976. The film covers about thirty years of Munch's life, focusing on the influences that shaped his art, particularly the prevalence of disease and death in his family and his youthful affair with a married woman.


Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo and Alfred Molina as her husband, Diego Rivera

Frida (2002)
Fabulous film depicting the professional and private life of the surrealist Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. It stars Salma Hayek in her Academy Award nominated portrayal as Kahlo and Alfred Molina as her husband, Diego Rivera. The film was shot entirely in Mexico.Location sites included Rivera and Kahlo's Juan O'Gorman designed San Ángel studio home and the San Idelfonso National Preparatory School. Replicas of Casa Azul (Kahlo's Coyacan home) and RCA Building's lobby were built at Churubusco Studios in Mexico City. Salma Hayek wore over fifty costumes as Frida. Some pieces were purchased from street vendors in Mexico City.


Frida - Naturaleza Viva (1984)
Starring: Ofelia Medina as Frida and Juan Jose Gurrola as Diego. Language: Spanish with English Subtitles. This is the original full-length movie of the life of Frida Kahlo. The film was produced in Mexico and is said to be "The True Story"…an extraordinary realization by Director Paul Leduc of the life of Frida Kahlo, the most admired Mexican painter in the world. In this drama, Frida's life story is told in surreal deathbed flashbacks resembling her haunting paintings. The actress Ofelia Medina, who portrays Kahlo, bears not only an uncanny resemblance, but shares her mannerisms, her dignity and her feverish passion. Through Frida's eyes we get to know her relationship with the great muralist Diego Rivera, the Russian thinker Leon Trotsky and the intellectual and the artistic life of Mexico at the end of the 1940's.


Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus (2006)
Film starring Nicole Kidman as iconic American photographer Diane Arbus, who was known for her strange, disturbing images.
As its name implies, the film is a fictional account rather than an accurate biography. The cinematic Arbus is torn between a bizarre relationship with a neighbour suffering from hypertrichosis, Lionel Sweeney (Robert Downey, Jr.), and a conventional life with her husband Allan (Ty Burrell), a photographer.


Girl With A Pearl Earring (2003)
Beautifully realised film adaptation of a work of fiction by author Tracy Chevalier, tells a story about the events surrounding the creation of the painting "Girl With A Pearl Earring" by 17th century Dutch master Johannes Vermeer. Little is known about the girl in the painting, it is speculated that she was a maid who lived in the house of the painter along with his family and other servants, though there is no historical evidence. This masterful film attempts to recreate the mysterious girl's life. Griet, played by Scarlett Johansson, is the maid in the house of painter Johannes Vermeer, played by British actor Colin Firth.


Goya - oder Der arge Weg der Erkenntnis (1971)
was nominated for the Golden Prize at the 1971 Moscow International Film Festival.
"As a painter in the court of King Carlos IV, Goya - played by the great Lithuanian actor Donatas Banionis (The Red Tent, Solaris) - has attained wealth and reputation. He believes in King and Church, yet he is also a Spaniard who dearly loves his people. This contradiction presents him with a dilemma."
Based on Lion Feuchtwanger's novel, Goya is one of ten East German films originally shot in 70mm. Shows the influence of great filmmakers from Buñuel and Saura, to Eisenstein.

Donatas Banionis as Goya

Goya's Ghosts (2006)
Stellan Skarsgard stars as Goya, with Natalie Portman as his teenage muse who is framed for heresy by a monk (Javier Bardem) aligned with the Spanish Inquisition. The film is set in Spain, circa 1792. Milos Forman (Amadeus, The People vs. Larry Flint) directs. The film was written, produced, and performed in English although it is a Spanish production, and although the historical setting of the movie is authentic, the story itself is pure fiction. Ornate costumes and a talented cast couldn’t make up for “Ghosts' glacial pace and confused plot."

Stellan Skarsgard stars as Goya, alongside Javier Bardem


Goya in Bordeaux (1999)
Spanish historical drama written and directed by Carlos Saura about the life of Francisco de Goya. Starring Francisco Rabal as Goya, José Coronado as a young Goya, and Dafne Fernández. Goya deaf and ill, lives the last years of his life in voluntary exile in Bordeaux, a Liberal protesting the oppressive rule of Ferdinand VII. Living with his much younger wife Leocadia and their daughter Rosario he continues to paint at night, and in flashbacks stirred by conversations with his daughter, by awful headaches, and by the befuddlement of age, he relives key times in his life. Throughout this haunting film, Goya’s reveries become tableaux of his paintings. “A fascinating, evocative study of one of the greatest artists of all time.”

Francisco Rabal as Goya


Heartbreakers (1984)
Drama starring Peter Coyote and Nick Mancuso, written and directed by Bobby Roth. The film concerns two friends, Blue (Coyote) and Eli (Mancuso) as they concurrently arrive at crossroads in their lives. Blue is a painter specializing in fetishistic portraits of women. As the story begins, he is given an opportunity to exhibit big time if he can create enough new pieces to fill out a show. The character was loosely based on real-life artist Robert Blue.
[Blue was a realist painter noted in the 1980s for his nostalgic images of pin-up girls. He is often cited as bringing fifties pin-up model Bettie Page out of retirement. In California at the age of 52 he succumbed to brain cancer].


The Horse's Mouth (1958)
Good old British comedy directed by Ronald Neame. Alec Guinness wrote the screenplay from the 1944 novel The Horse's Mouth by Joyce Cary, and also played the lead role of Gulley Jimson, a crazy London mural painter obsessed with his artistic vision. Also features Kay Walsh, Mike Morgan, Ernest Thesiger and Michael Gough. Entertainment Weekly puts it on its "10 Best Movies About Artists" list.
The expressionistic "Jimson" paintings featured in the film were actually the work of artist John Bratby, a member of the so called Kitchen Sink school.

Alec Guinness as the irascible Gulley Jimson


I Shot Andy Warhol (1996)
Independent film about the life of Valerie Solanas and her relationship with Andy Warhol. The movie marked the debut of Canadian director Mary Harron.
The film stars Lili Taylor as Valerie, Jared Harris as Andy Warhol and Martha Plimpton as Valerie's friend Stevie. Stephen Dorff plays Warhol superstar Candy Darling.
Lou Reed of the Velvet Underground, whose anger with Solanas was well known, stated publicly that he did not want any film about her to be made, and would not allow the filmmakers to use his music. Nevertheless, the film's music score was written by John Cale, a former member of the Velvet Underground. This film is based on the true story and was thoroughly researched by the filmmaker who initially intended to make a documentary.


Klimt (2007)
Austrian film directed and written by Raoul Ruiz, about the life of the legendary Austrian painter Gustav Klimt. It stars John Malkovich and Saffron Burrows. “A character study and a meditation on art in a time of opulence and syphilis”. Klimt lies in hospital, dying. In reveries, he recalls the early 1900s: it's fin de siècle Vienna. At the World Exposition in Paris, Klimt meets Georges Méliès, who does a moving picture for him, and Klimt falls under the spell of a woman who may be Lea de Castro. We see Klimt in his studio; we meet his mother and sister, who suffer from mental illness. We watch Klimt the libertine. On his deathbed and as a younger man, he imagines encounters with ministers and waiters and with women who are willing participants in his pleasures. "Did I miss something or did this film stink?" (Comment heard on exiting the screening of "Klimt" at the Siskel Film Center, Chicago July 4, 2007)


Lights & Shadows (Luces y sombras) (1988)
Director: Jaime Camino/ Director of Photography: Josep M Civit
Stars: José Luis Gómez, Jack Shepherd and Ángela Molina/
- a personal and complex film, Luces y sombras presents a journey into the past as a child enters the time of Felipe IV through the picture "Las Meninas" from Velázquez.


Little Ashes (2008):
A splendid achievement by any standards of artists in films,
Little Ashes is a Spanish-British drama film, filmed in Barcelona and directed by Paul Morrison, set against the backdrop of
Spain during the 20s and 30s, as three of the era's most creative young talents meet at university and set off on a course to change their world;
Luis Buñuel, Salvador Dalí and the poet Federico García Lorca.
Robert Pattinson's initial appearence as a young Dali is worth the purchase price alone!

["In addition to this hopelessly reductive format we’re punished further by the typical belief that dogs this type of cinema; the belief that if the film features characters that history have deemed important and interesting well then the film automatically will also be important and interesting. Far from it, and seemingly just to prove how wrong this sort of thinking can be, this film is markedly more dull than many other biopics that concerned themselves with lesser talents than Dali, Buñuel and Lorca.
The film itself does have some dramatic substance although it seems to try its best to squander it. The opening title tells us of a Spain that is run by the Catholic Church and extreme social conservatism and we are then dropped into a world of artists whom we know will shake up and attack that conservatism throughout their careers. From the get go the film basically assumes we know of the three main characters, the painter Salvador Dali, the writer and poet Federico García Lorca and filmmaker Luis Buñuel and that we understand their importance. As I said above, their genius is assumed and the film goes to no effort to try and capture these men as people or as products of their time but rather sees them as automatons that spew out artistic magnificence almost as a by-product of simply being awake. It seems insulting to suggest that the work of these men was more the by-product of an objectively judged “genius” rather than the result of repeated investigations into their own ideas and those of others, worked and reworked tirelessly again and again but so it goes; this film has little time for details. Meanwhile the central drama is derived from the ‘will they? won’t they?’ homosexual trysts between Dali and Lorca
..." -
effigy105 rateyourmusic.com]


Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon (1998)
Superb made-for-television film by the BBC. It was written and directed by John Maybury and stars Derek Jacobi, Daniel Craig, and Tilda Swinton.
A biography of Irish painter Francis Bacon (marvellous Jacobi), it concentrates on his strained relationship with George Dyer (Craig), a small time thief. The film draws heavily on the authorised biography of Bacon, The Gilded Gutter Life of Francis Bacon by Daniel Farson, and is dedicated to him. Perfectly conjures up Bacon and his milieu.

Derek Jacobi as Francis Bacon

Lust for Life (1956)
Biographical film about the life of the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh, based on the 1934 novel by Irving Stone. Directed by Vincente Minnelli the film stars Kirk Douglas (who bore a surprising resemblance to Van Gogh). Anthony Quinn won an Oscar for his 23 minute, 40 second performance as Van Gogh's fast friend and rival Paul Gaugin.
“Kirk Douglas never plunged as deeply into a portrayal as he did, in "Lust for Life", and the experience nearly crushed him, as he related in his autobiography, "Ragman's Son". His total immersion in the role SHOULD have won him an Oscar (Yul Brynner won, instead, for The King and I)...”


The Moderns (1988)
Nick Hart (Keith Carradine) is an expatriate American artist living in Paris among some of the great artists and writers of the time, including Ernest Hemingway (Kevin J. O'Connor), Gertrude Stein (Elsa Raven), and Alice B. Toklas (Ali Giron).
Nick is torn between his wife Rachel (Linda Fiorentino) and Nathalie de Ville (Geraldine Chaplin) who hires him to forge her paintings... “sort of a source study for the Paris of Ernest Hemingway in the 1920s”... The Moderns was directed by Alan Rudolph.


Modigliani (2004)
Set in Paris in 1919, biopic centres on the life of late Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani, focusing on his last days as well as his rivalry with Pablo Picasso. Andy Garcia was chosen for the lead. His chief love interest Jeanne Hébuterne is played by Elsa Zylberstein. Modigliani's rival, Pablo Picasso, is portrayed by Omid Djalili plus: Hippolyte Girardot (Maurice Utrillo), Eva Herzigova (Olga Khokhlova), Udo Kier (Max Jacob), Susie Amy (Beatrice Hastings), Peter Capaldi (Jean Cocteau), Stevan Rimkus (Chaim Soutine), Dan Astileanu (Diego Rivera), Miriam Margolyes (Gertrude Stein). New York Times critic Stephen Holden wrote, "The best and maybe the only use to be made of the catastrophic screen biography Modigliani is to serve as a textbook outline of how not to film the life of a legendary artist."


Montparnasse 19 (1958)
(see Les amants de Montparnasse) French/Italian biographic movie about the last year in the life of painter Modigliani, with Gerard Philipe, Lili Palmer, Anouk Aimee. Directed by Jacques Becker after the death of Max Ophuls from rheumatic heart desease.


Moulin Rouge (2001)
Romantic musical film by Baz Luhrmann, tells the story of a young, English poet/writer, Christian (Ewan McGregor), who falls in love with the star of the Moulin Rouge (Nicole Kidman). It uses the setting of the Moulin Rouge and the Montmartre Quarter of Paris. John Leguizamo plays Toulouse-Lautrec. Nominated for eight Oscars (it won two), the film takes well-known popular music, mostly drawn from the MTV Generation, and anachronizes it into a tale set in turn-of-the-century Paris. The movie features editing that several critics compared to a music video, involving swirling camera motion, loud music, dancing, and frenetic cutting. The film was an instant success. It eventually grossed over $57 million in the United States and made over $120 million internationally, resulting in over $177 million worldwide.



Moulin Rouge (1952)
Directed by John Huston, and set in late 19th century Paris, portrays artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in and around the Moulin Rouge. Jose Ferrer stars as Toulouse. The film was shot at Shepperton Studios, and on location in London and Paris. Reportedly, John Huston asked cinematographer Oswald Morris that he wanted the colour scheme of the film to look "as if Toulouse-Lautrec had directed it". To transform Ferrer into Lautrec required the use of platforms and concealed pits as well as special camera angles, makeup and costumes. Short body doubles were also used and, in addition, Ferrer used a set of knee-pads of his own design which allowed him to walk on his knees with his lower legs strapped to his upper body (an experience which must no doubt have been painful). The film’s remarkable opening follows the crowds pouring into the Moulin Rouge, young artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec finishes a bottle of cognac and sketches the dancers as they perform. The nightclub's regulars each stop by: singer Jane Avril (Zsa Zsa Gabor) teases Henri charmingly, dancers La Goulue (Katherine Kath) and Aicha (Muriel Smith) fight, and owner Maurice Joyant (Lee Montague) offers Henri free drinks for a month in exchange for painting a promotional poster. At closing time, Henri waits for the crowds to disperse before standing to reveal his four-foot, six-inch body.


Loft life: Nick Nolte in 'New York Stories'

New York Stories (1989)
Made up of three short films, each by a different director. Martin Scorsese's fabulous contribution, "Life Lessons," stars Nick Nolte as the proverbial obsessive, drunk, self-destructive painter. Nolte is great in this, playing Lionel Dobie, an acclaimed abstract painter who is unable to paint before a major gallery exhibition of his new work, and Rosanna Arquette is Paulette, his apprentice/assistant and former lover. Lionel is still infatuated with her, but Paulette wants only his tutelage, which makes things difficult since they live in the same studio-loft. Throughout the turmoil in their relationship, Lionel pours his anxiety and repressed passion into his work. Eventually Paulette leaves when she has had enough, but not before Lionel is on his way to completing all the paintings he needs for his exhibition.


Picassos äventyr (1978)
“The Adventures of Picasso” is a Swedish film comedy directed by Tage Danielsson, starring Gösta Ekman, as Picasso. The film had the tag-line “A Thousand loving lies by Hans Alfredson and Tage Danielsson”. The film contains 10 languages: Spanish, French, Swedish, German, Finnish, Italian, English, Russian, Norwegian and Latin. Most of these words are very simple (Agua = water etc.), sometimes meaning something different than they seem and other times just being complete nonsense. In the film Bernard Cribbins plays a hilarious Gertrude Stein, who among other things dresses up as a pirate in a masquerade held by Henry Rousseau, almost cutting the head of Picasso with her sword, by accident. Wilfrid Brambell plays Alice B Toklas. Despite the fact that this movie is set in Spain, London, Paris, the French Riviera and America most of the movie was shot in and around the Swedish town of Tomelilla. Many of the scenes were filmed at the same street. All of Picasso's paintings for the movie were made by Per Åhlin. The film was a great success in Hungary, were it played on a Budapest cinema every year after release, and was turned into a stage play. They’re strange these Scandinavians… this from a Finnish reviewer: “One of the funniest films ever! I love the scene where Picasso goes to meet Sirkka at her parents and knocks the door. Lasse Poysti (a famous Finnish(!) actor) as Sirkka's father yells "Makkara!", which isn't actually Finnish for 'Come in!' but 'Sausage!' Everyone who loves strange and absurd humour will love this movie!”


33 Dias (“33 Days”) (2013)
Carlos (“Goya in Bordeaux.”) Saura's biopic 33 Días focuses on Picasso's emotional upheaval in 1937, when he painted “Guernica,” his harrowing representation of the bombing of a Basque town that has come to symbolize the outrage of warfare. Turbulent relationships mark Picasso’s life at the start of 1937, when he accepted a commission for the Paris Universal Exposition from the Republican government of Spain, then fighting a civil war against the Fascist troops of Gen. Francisco Franco. Picasso’s personal life was also in disarray: He was neglecting his wife, the Russian dancer Olga Khokhlova, and was involved with two mistresses: Marie-Thérèse Walter and Dora Maar. Saura’s Picasso is Antonio Banderas. Gwyneth Paltrow plays Dora Maar.


Picasso's Gang (La Banda Picasso) (2012)
Fernando Colomo's (best known as a director of comedies) light-hearted but thoroughly researched “La Banda Picasso” is about how Pablo Picasso (Ignacio Mateos) found himself entangled in the stunning theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in Paris in 1911. While the Mona Lisa was eventually recovered and found to have been stolen by a Louvre employee, Picasso was initially suspected of having taken part in the theft, which affected his relationship with some of the other artists working in Paris. It destroyed his friendship with Guillaume Apollinaire, the French poet who helped clear Picasso of any involvement but who was forced to accept responsibility for another art theft.
The mess of the artists studios and the hustles, bustles and struggles of bohemian life are well rendered, with art director Patrice Vermette and Jose Luis Alcaine (Pedro Almodovar’s current lenser of choice) collaborating on delicious period visuals that superbly evoke bohemian Paris in the 1900s. Exteriors were largely shot in Budapest. Vincent Ruiz was nominated for Best Costumes Award at the 2013 Goya Film Awards but the film lost out to multi award winning Blancanieves.

Ignacio Mateos, left, as Picasso, and Pierre Benézit, as Apollinaire,
in Fernando Colomo’s film “La Banda Picasso” (Picasso's Gang)

Above: Ignacio Mateos, left, as Picasso and Raphaelle Agogue as Fernande Olivier in "Picasso's Gang"


The Picasso Summer (1969)
Serge Bourguignon’s Picasso Summer is based on a Ray Bradbury story and concerns vacationing couple Albert Finney and Yvette Mimieux. Enchanted by the works of Pablo Picasso, Finney and Mimieux trek through the length and breadth of Europe to meet the great artist himself. Their odyssey concludes on a melancholy note, but not before an engaging animated sequences wherein Picasso's paintings come to life ( watch it on YouTube ).

see also: Surviving Picasso (1996)


The Pillow Book (1996)
A film by director Peter Greenaway, which stars Vivian Wu as Nagiko, a Japanese model in search of pleasure and new cultural experience from various lovers. Rich and artistic melding of dark modern drama with idealized Chinese and Japanese cultural themes and settings, and centres around body painting.


Pollock (2000)
Exceptional biographical drama which tells the life story of painter Jackson Pollock. It stars Ed Harris as Jackson Pollock, Marcia Gay Harden as Lee Krasner, Amy Madigan as Peggy Guggenheim, Val Kilmer as Willem de Kooning, and Stephanie Seymour as Helen Frankenthaler. This film was a long term dream of Ed Harris. After his father gave him a copy of Pollock's biography, he started thinking about the project, which took almost 10 years to bring to fruition. Marcia Gay Harden won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for portraying Lee Krasner.


Pontormo: A Heretical Love (2003)
This Italian film stars Joe Mantegna and follows the life of Italian Renaisance artist, Jacopo Carrucci, and his artist-muse relationship with a young girl. Director: Giovanni Fago. [Named Jacopo Carucci but called Pontormo after his native Tuscan town, he was the son of a painter and exposed early on to High Renaissance art. He later developed a Mannerist and ornamental style. In addition, Pontormo was inspired by northern European artists such as Albrecht Durer. In the last decade of his life, he became a recluse and shunned even his closest of friends.]


The Quince Tree Sun (1992)
A dreamlike and hypnotic film about the artistic process in every sense of the phrase, Spanish director Victor Erice’s El Sol del Mebrillo loosely documents the efforts of artist Antonio Lopez to paint the Quince tree in his backyard. Lopez agonizes over just how to capture the light falling on the tree’s leaves; he aspires to complete the painting before the fruit falls at the end of the season. Meanwhile, the artist is distracted by unannounced visitors, the debate over the Gulf War, and the filmmaker himself. Erice’s previous films include a hallmark of Spanish cinema, The Spirit of the Beehive (1973).


Rembrandt (1936)
An oldie, but a goodie, with the respected Charles Laughton in the title role and with marvelous interior sets & costumes. Sir Alexander Korda's production of the life of the celebrated artist is beautifully presented on screen. Chief among its assets - and the main reason for its success - is the magnificent performance by Laughton. Eccentric & temperamental, Laughton could be difficult to work with. But once fascinated by a role he gave it the full vibrato of his own extensive genius


Rembrandt (1942)
A German historical drama film directed by Hans Steinhoff and starring Ewald Balser as Rembrandt.


Rembrandt (1999)
Conventional historical biographic film directed by Charles Matton. Starring Klaus Maria Brandauer as Rembrant van Rijn, and with Romane Bohringer and Jean Rochefort


Renoir (2012) is a French drama film based on the last years of Renoir at Cagnes-sur-Mer during World War I.The film was directed by Gilles Bourdos and competed in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. Renoir has achieved critical and commercial success both in France and abroad, most notably in the United States where it is on the Critic's Pick list of the New York Times. The film was selected as the French entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards, but it was not nominated. In January 2014, the film received four nominations at the 39th César Awards, winning for Best Costume Design. Director Gilles Bourdos used the services of a convicted art forger, Guy Ribes, to create and re-create the Renoir paintings in live action on screen. With Michel Bouquet as Auguste Renoir Christa Theret as Andrée Heuschling and Vincent Rottiers as Jean Renoir


Savage Messiah (1972)
Brilliant Ken Russell film of the life of French sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, starring Dorothy Tutin, Scott Antony, Helen Mirren, Lindsay Kemp, Peter Vaughan and Michael Gough. Screenplay by Christopher Logue, based on the book Savage Messiah by H.S. Ede. The sets were designed by Derek Jarman. Surprisingly, Russell sticks to the facts. Great fun.

Dorothy Tutin, Scott Antony, and Helen Mirren SAVAGE MESSIAH


Seraphine (2008)
Just going the rounds of the UK film societies is this fine biography of Seraphine de Senlis, a visionary French ‘primitive’ directed by Martin Provost and starring Yolande Moreau and Ulrich Tukur. “A French painter of the naïve style, Séraphine de Senlis may not have been a household name in France before this biopic came out, but she surely is now. The film Séraphine pays homage to an artist whose initial fame was fleeting, and in so doing, revitalizes the work and gives recognition to her as a visionary artist of the early 20th century.” www.culturevulture


Sirens (1994)
Directed by John Duigan, and set in Australia between the two World Wars Sirens stars Hugh Grant as Tony, an Anglican priest newly arrived from England, asked to visit a notorious artist, loosely based on the Australian artist Norman Lindsay and played here by Sam Neill, out of the church's concern about a blasphemous painting the artist plans to exhibit. Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote: "Sirens is best watched as a soft-core, high-minded daydream about the liberating sensuality of art…” All great fun and sexy with it, most of the film is set at what is now the Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum, which was the original home of the real-life Lindsay.


Summer In February (2013) starring Dan Stevens and Emily Browning

Summer In February (2013)
is a movie about a tragic love affair that unfolded in the Newlyn artists’ colony in West Cornwall, England, on the eve of the Great War.
The mostly plein air artists of the Newlyn colony, led by Samuel “Lamorna” Birch and named after the fishing village near Penzance, frequently painted landscapes and life in the local fishing villages, often in realistic or Impressionist styles; the hazards and dangers of the fisherman’s lot were a frequent subject. The painters included Stanhope and Elizabeth Forbes (founders of the Forbes school, which specialized in figure painting); Alfred Munnings; Walter Langley; Harold and Laura Knight; Norman Garstin; Frank Bramley; Thomas Cooper Gotch; Dod Procter; and artist-photographer Henry Scott Tuke.

Directed by Christopher Menaul (“The Forsyte Saga”), Summer in February has been adapted by Jonathan Smith from his novel, which was inspired by the diaries of the land manager Gilbert Evans. It depicts the passion between Evans (portrayed by Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens) and the aspiring landcape artist Florence Carter-Wood (Emily Browning).


Surviving Picasso (1996)
A pretty awful Merchant Ivory Film starring a lack lustre Anthony Hopkins as Pablo Picasso. It was shot in Paris and southern France. The screenplay was loosely based on the biography Picasso: Creator and Destroyer. The film is seen through the eyes of his lover Françoise Gilot (Natascha McElhone). Because the producers were unable to get permission (as usual) to show the works of Picasso in the film, the film is more about Picasso's personal life rather than his works, and where it does show paintings, they are not of his more famous works. Also features Julianne Moore as Dora Maar and
Joss Ackland as Henri Matisse. (“Hopkins is a full-blooded Picasso”, reported Variety - this writer begs to differ!)


The Shape of Things (2003)
Directed by American film director, screenwriter and playwright Neil LaBute, Produced by Neil LaBute, Gail Mutrux, Philip Steuer, and Rachel Weisz. Written by Neil LaBute. This film centres on the relationship between an art museum guard (Paul Rudd) and the woman/artist who manipulates him (Rachel Weisz). The film is based on Neil LaBute’s stageplay which premièred at the Almeida Theatre, London in 2001 with Paul Rudd as Adam, Rachel Weisz as Evelyn. The play was directed by LaBute himself.


Mr. Turner (2014)
British biographical drama film, written and directed by Mike Leigh, and starring Timothy Spall, Dorothy Atkinson, Marion Bailey and Paul Jesson. The film concerns the life and career of British artist J. M. W. Turner (played by Spall). It premiered in competition for the Palme d'Or at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, where Spall won the award for Best Actor.- A look at the last quarter century of the great if eccentric British painter J. M. W. Turner (Spall). Profoundly affected by the death of his esteemed father, loved by a housekeeper he takes for granted and occasionally exploits sexually, he forms a close relationship with a seaside landlady with whom he eventually lives incognito in Chelsea, where he dies. Throughout all this, Turner travels, paints, stays with the country aristocracy, visits brothels, is a popular if anarchic member of the Royal Academy of Arts, has himself strapped to the mast of a ship so that he can paint a snowstorm, and is both celebrated and reviled by the public and by royalty.


Letting it Rip: Spanish actress Penelope Cruz gets
painting (after being tutored off-camera by Catalan artist Agusti Puig)

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
is a romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Woody Allen. The plot centers on two American women, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson), who spend a summer in Barcelona where they meet an artist, Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), who is attracted to both of them while still enamored of his mentally and emotionally unstable ex-wife María Elena (Penélope Cruz), also a painter. The film was shot in Spain in Barcelona, Avilés and Oviedo, and the paintings featured are the work of outstanding contemporary Catalan painter Agusti Puig.


Vincent and Theo (1990)
“Robert Altman, the great ironist of American movies, can't resist beginning Vincent & Theo with video of an art auction at Christie's, where Van Gogh's Sunflowers attracts dizzying multi-million-dollar bids. Dissolve to the utterly squalid hovel where Vincent (Tim Roth) lives-reminding us that the artist sold but one painting in his poor, tormented lifetime. Vincent & Theo is an unusual and-fittingly enough-impressionistic look at Vincent and his brother Theo (Paul Rhys), the mad genius and the art broker. These parallel lives unfold, with Vincent's celebrated wallow in the fires of art running alongside Theo's neurotic struggle to fit into the real world. Roth is mesmerizing and frightening as Vincent, while Rhys gives a more mannered performance that fits Theo's tortured ambivalence. If the true-life circumstances are unavoidably grim and Altman's pace is slow, almost druggy, the film nevertheless casts a spell.” - Amazon.com


Vincent in Notable TV Appearence: "Vincent and the Doctor" is the tenth episode in the fifth series of British science fiction television series Doctor Who, first broadcast on BBC One on 5 June 2010. It was written by Richard Curtis and directed by Jonny Campbell and featured an uncredited guest appearance from actor Bill Nighy. Intrigued by an ominous figure in one of Vincent van Gogh's paintings, alien time traveller the Doctor (Matt Smith) and his companion Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) go back in time to meet Van Gogh (Tony Curran) and discover that Provence has been plagued by an invisible monster, known as the Krafayis, which only Van Gogh can see.


Wolf at the Door (1987)
Deals with artist Paul Gauguin's return to Paris from Tahiti in 1893, and his subsequent trip back to Tahiti. Starring: Donald Sutherland, Max von Sydow Director: Henning Carlsen. “Donald Sutherland plays an excellent Gaugin. He takes you through his life from deserting his family in Denmark through his time in Paris with all the other artists of his day to his travels in Tahiti. Highly recommend movie for it's content and for the history value...”


The Yellow House (2007)
Channel4 tv feature directed by Chris Durlacher, with John Simm as Vincent Van Gogh, Scott Handy as Theo van Gogh, and John Lynch as Paul Gauguin.
For just nine weeks, in late 1888, Van Gogh and Gauguin share a home, The Yellow House, in Arles, southern France.Approaching middle age and still flat broke, both men abandon respectability, family and friends to commit themselves utterly to painting, united by an unshakable belief in the importance of art.
Simm: "Gauguin was absolutely right when he said to Van Gogh, 'one day, mon frère, people will paint like us, people will dress like us, people will think like us and they will understand what we're trying to do. We're the future. We're the revolution, the silent, bloodless coup of the imagination'."




The Damned (1961)
The Damned is a curious British science fiction film drama featuring radio-active children hidden beneath a secret military base. Starring Macdonald Carey, Shirley Anne Field and Oliver Reed, it was a Hammer Film production directed by Joseph Losey and based on H.L. Lawrence's story The Children of Light.
The interesting sculptures made by the character Freya Neilson (whose lover, Bernard, is the scientist who runs the base) were made by artist Elisabeth Frink. The film was made in 1961 but, due perhaps to political considerations, was not released in Britain until 1963. Even then it was subject to several cuts, from 96 to 87 minutes in Britain and 77 minutes in America where it was released as These Are the Damned in 1965.


Vincent: The Life and Death of Vincent Van Gogh (1988)
Documentary starring John Hurt, Marika Riveraand directed by Paul Cox, Rob Visser. “The best film about Vincent Van Gogh is not one of the many biopics of the painter, but this stirring, ardent documentary. Forgoing a conventional biography's and-then-he-cut-his-ear-off approach, the gifted Dutch-Australian director Paul Cox opts for pure evocation: he trails his camera through the places where Van Gogh walked, as though trying to dream his way into the artist's mindset. Meanwhile, the beautiful voice of John Hurt reads from Vincent's amazingly searching letters to his brother, Theo…” Amazon.com



Hokusai manga, (1981 film account of Hokusai's life)… Utamaro and His Five Women (1946 Japanese fictionalized account of the life of printmaker Kitagawa Utamaro)... I Shot Andy Warhol… Max… Chasing Amy... Junebug… Crumb… F is For Fake... An American in Paris…. Ken Russell’s tv Dante’s Inferno with Oliver Reed as Rossetti and Ken Russell’s tv Always On Sunday with painter James Lloyd as Henri Rousseau… and Peter Greenaway’s Rembrandt's J'accuse (2008) with Martin (The Office) Freeman as Rembrandt van Rijn...


from a Guardian Film Quiz:

Kirk Douglas was Oscar-nominated for his performance as tortured artist Vincent Van Gogh in the 1957 film Lust for Life. But fellow actor John Wayne was unimpressed. What did he reportedly tell Douglas?


1. “I figured it was going to be a movie about a van driver, so obviously I'm disappointed”

2. “What were you thinking? You're not Dutch. You can't paint. You should stick to playing cowboys”

3. “You should never have made a film of Van Gogh. He sucks. He's not a patch on Modigliani”

4. “How can you play a part like that? We've got to play strong characters, not these weak queers”



“Of course you want
to be an artist.
Everybody does, once.
But they get over it, like
measles and chicken pox!”

Gulley Jimson to Nosey in:
The Horse’s Mouth (1958)


“You'll always be an artist.
You have no choice!”

Raphael to Michelangelo from
The Agony & The Ecstasy



Pandora & The Flying Dutchman

Stephen writes;

One afternoon a few years ago, in a rare idle moment, I switched on the TV for an afternoon film and watched fascinated and bewitched, a film I had neither seen nor heard of before. Here was myth, poetry, art, beautiful women, fast cars, the idle rich, the Spanish coast, bullfighting, flamenco, romance and murder, all in one fabulously over the top Hollywood movie starring British actor James Mason and the beautiful Hollywood actress and then partner of Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner. The film was “Pandora & the Flying Dutchman” directed in 1951 by Albert Lewin.

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman is a heady and delightful Hollywood enchantment that, like its director's handful of similarly sincere forays into romantic fantasy deserves to be better known than it is.
The film remains one of the most spectacularly realized examples of American movie culture's mid-century forays into supernatural romance updating the Flying Dutchman legend to a Spanish village in the 1930s, where a stunning Ava Gardner plays Pandora, a night-club singer and femme fatale for whose hand various men compete. A ruby-lipped incarnation of the eternal feminine, she toys with matadors and racing drivers, but in the enigmatic Dutchman – doomed to wander the seas – she meets a match which could be the making of them both.
A brooding, restrained James Mason stars as the Dutchman Hendrik van der Zee, a sea captain who, since the seventeenth century, has been condemned to sail the seven seas until he finds a woman willing to die for his love. He anchors at the Costa Brava fishing port, and his destiny is soon entwined with Ava Gardner’s man-eating playgirl Pandora.

Thanks to Martin Scorsese's ongoing preservation and presentation work, Lewin's romantic fable is now available in a new print, returning the film's Technicolor photography to a state closely approximating its original extravagance.
The film was shot in Tossa de Mar, the town where Chagall had lived in the thirties, and it could be said, a mere melted clock away from the home of Salvador Dalí.
In the town a statue of Ava Gardner has been erected on the hill overlooking the town’s main beach.

A Harvard graduate, director Albert Lewin went to Hollywood in the 1920s, working first as a screenwriter before becoming one of MGM’s most important producers of the 1930s, overseeing major prestige pictures such as box office sensation Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) and The Good Earth (1937). The consummate studio insider, Lewin was also a stalwart aesthete and passionate art collector, a professor and antiquities expert, and a friend of artists Man Ray and Max Ernst.
Lewin brings off the near-impossible task of positing a transcendent love in a sceptical age, succeeding through his own conviction, and indeed because Gardner, in the role of a lifetime, seems as much screen goddess as mere mortal – an apotheosis rendered by cameraman Jack Cardiff in Technicolor so heady it’s the stuff of legend. Unlike Powell and Pressburger at their peak, however, the storytelling remains earthbound, with a beardy English academic character on hand to explain the references lest 1950s viewers didn’t get it.

A film ahead of its time? Quite possibly, though you forgive the stodgy pace for the sheer uniqueness with which Lewin conjures a celluloid equivalent of the canvasses of De Chirico and Dalí – passionate, classical, mysterious and surreal all at once.
The behind-the-scenes inspiration for Lewin’s sumptuously romantic vision clearly included the work of Man Ray and Max Ernst, two artists he collected. Man Ray himself directly contributed to the film's design. Indeed, not only did Man Ray contribute one of his self designed chess sets to the proceedings its likely that the painting that the Dutchman is seen completing (in the style of Giorgio de Chirico) was supplied either by Man Ray or in spite of Man Ray’s contribution. He was employed to take photos of Ava Gardner on set.
The first time the Dutchman Hendrick (James Mason) appears on screen, he is alone on his yacht painting a portrait of the legendary Pandora.
When curiosity about the lone yacht anchored off the bay gets the better of Pandora (Ava Gardner) she swims naked out to the yacht and finds it has no crew. Going below she discovers the Dutchman Hendrik absorbed at his easel. The fact that he is painting her likeness even though they have never met is an alluring and consummate surrealist device to say the least!

Seeking to fuse classical narrative filmmaking with his fascination for the baroque, the decadent and the surreal Lewin used the ploy of featuring a painting prominently in both his previous films The Private Affairs of Bel Ami and The Picture Dorian Grey. Films like The Picture of Dorian Grey and Pandora and the Flying Dutchman have earned him a following among those who appreciate cinema's aptitude for suggesting the mysterious and the unseen. For the The Private Affairs of Bel Ami twelve artists were invited to paint their versions of The Temptation of St. Anthony. The partaking artists were:
Ivan Albright, Eugene Berman, Leonora Carrington, Salvador Dalí, Paul Delvaux, Max Ernst, Louis Guglielmi, Horace Pippin, Abraham Rattner, Stanley Spencer, and Dorothea Tanning. The twelfth artist would have been Leonor Fini, but she didn’t submit a painting. The prize ($ 2500) eventually went to Max Ernst, but it was good publicity for all artists involved.

On location on the Spanish coast, Lewin became somewhat fixated on his female star. Jack Cardiff recalls the film's continuity supervisor despairing as he had to keep track of the unnecessary close-ups that Lewin took of Gardner. For her part, the star, deep in the throes of her famed off-screen romance with Frank Sinatra, and nervous about appearing in
her first colour movie, took pains to point out to Mr.Cardiff that she needed to be lit differently depending on where she was in her lunar cycle.
For his part Jack Cardiff, the award winning cinematographer on Black Narcissus (1947) and The Red Shoes (1948), also found Ava Gardner an immensely attractive, intense and down-to-earth person. She, in turn, admired Cardiff but was torn between Frank Sinatra (who had just left his wife for her), living in Spain, and encouraging the Bullfighter Cabre, who wrote her poetry and played guitar under her window!
Certainly no one ever photographed her more lovingly than Cardiff, and much of the charm of the movie is in Cardiff's hard lit Technicolor technique (which he was to move away from), photographing Gardner with exotic backlights in a number of spectacular scenes.

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman met with mixed reviews. Few critics could deny its visual splendour but most of the English-speaking critics could not accept its script, which they described as "confused and pretentious" and "turgid". Many French critics, on the other hand, loved Pandora, not only for its sensual beauty but also for its eccentric and literate blend of poetry and myth, tragedy and spectacle. Critics in the surrealist circuit and those of Cahiers du Cinéma were most rapturous. Pandora was "annexed to the surrealist pantheon" and to the French New Wave pantheon, where Ava Gardner as Pandora was described in deliriously surrealist prose under "G" in the Cahiers du Cinéma’s dictionary, and "F comme femme," in its special number "La femme et le cinéma" (1953).

Man Ray’s brief dalliance with Hollywood was as short lived as that of Dali’s with Hitchcock (remember Dali’s dream sequence sets in “Spellbound”?). In fact the only contribution of Man Ray to the film industry during his stay in Hollywood was for Pandora and the Flying Dutchman.
Asked in an interview “Why do you think the various Hollywood film people were so interested in Man Ray?” Mrs Juliet Man Ray is reported to have replied, “Because they had heard his name. They were mostly Europeans, although there was a friend called Donald Freeder, who was sort of an agent, and who wanted to get Man Ray's work somehow into the industry… but the producers said they'd never heard of him; they wouldn't allow it. But Lewin did get in his film, despite the producer, the chess set that Man Ray designed… It was full screen. And also, of course, the photo of Ava Gardner that looked like a painting. It's in colour, very beautiful.”

For his part Man Ray recollected in his book Self Portrait, “Allie (Lewin) needed a color portrait of Ava for one of the shots, as she looked in a period costume. I offered to do it and he sent her to my studio… My picture appeared in the film as if it were a painting. He also used a chess set I had designed…” - Again, no mention of the painting on the easel!

Thus, whilst it is without doubt that a photograph taken of Ava Gardner by Man Ray was featured, who painted the Pandora composition seen in the film remains something of a mystery. It is clearly different from the painting seen on Man Ray’s easel in the photograph taken of Man Ray and Eva Gardner. One internet blogger suggests the painting was done by de Chirico himself, though I doubt de Chirico was hanging about the studios just because he’d been approached to submit a work for The Private Affairs of Bel Ami. De Chirico’s paintings could be seen in Hollywood galleries however, from the late 1930s, alonside the work of the surrealists whom he had influenced, - and at least one Hollywood designer was tutored by de Chirico. Dali’s Hollywood sketches also owe a debt to de Chirico’s powerful influence.
Plainly the painting seen on screen is more in keeping with de Chirico than that seen in the studio photograph (above). And yet to the left can be seen two sketches of the “egg” head that is seen to replace the likeness of Pandora. This is pure de Chirico and is painted by Hendrik as a result of Pandora’s rash temper when in a sudden fit of pique she attacks the painting destroying the face portrayed therein….
“You haven't hurt my painting, you've helped it.” explains Hendrik, “In a moment I'll show you what I mean... No work of art is complete until the element of chance has
entered into it. The unexpected and the surprising are indispensable. Pandora was the first woman, the Eve of Greek legend, whose curiosity cost us our earthly paradise. I was wrong to portray her as a particular woman, no matter how beautiful. Pandora should appear as woman in the abstract. Bride and mother, the original and generic egghead from which we can imagine the whole human race to have been hatched. By sheer chance you've contributed the unexpected element which my painting needed. Now it is really Pandora."



A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting the creator of the fine statue of Ava Gardner which stands above the town of Tossa de Mar, Catalonia, Spain - overlooking the town's main beach.
Catalan artist Ció Abellí ( b. Girona 1963) a student of the sculptor Ricard Sala who graduated in Fine Arts, specialising in sculpture at the University of Barcelona, was able to assuage my doubts about the provenance of the paintings in Pandora & the Flying Dutchman. The final paintings for the film were indeed painted by Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico (1888 – 1978)
SP July 2015
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