42 thoughts on “Artists Who Should Have Movies Made About Them

  1. Several. From the Italian Renaissance: Botticelli, Fra Felippo Lippi, Titian and from the late Renaissance Artemesia Gentileschi – only woman with a painting in the Vatican.

    1. I think there was a movie made about Artemesia within the past 20 years or so (a foreign film, of course) that was supposed to be quite good; at least, I seem to recall seeing stills from it at one point. She certainly deserves another film, though, this time in English, for those who aren’t familiar with her story.

      1. Yes – it was 15 minutes of fine art and the rest was soft-core porn, from what I’ve heard, as it built up the supposed affair with Tassi. I was particularly angered by that take, too, as Artemisia underwent torture to press charges against her rapist. If anyone would doubt her claim, I suggest they view her masterwork ‘Judith’. The film is just ‘Artemisia’.

        1. I saw the movie when it came out. There was some prettiness to look at and it was a well-made movie, but, yeah, the soft-core element was strong with it. I didn’t know much about her history when I saw the movie so wasn’t aware at the time of the pretty sizable inaccuracies. And the story ends when she’s still just at the beginning of her career, if I remember correctly. She most definitely deserves another – that focuses much more on her actual work!

      2. Yeah, it’s called “Artemisa” I think… It’s on my FF watch-list, but I keep dragging my feet because she’s really precious to me and I don’t want to see her story fucked up. I know the film placed way more focus on her rape trial than anything and that bothered me enough to put off watching it. :P

  2. One that is already done and needs to be seen more is The Mill and The Cross … Peter Bruegel (Rutger Hauer) takes his patron (Michael York) on a tour through one of his paintings … actually walking through the painting.

    1. I had a reason for not including that as a “biopic” on this list for some reason but now I can’t remember why. I think it was because he was used as a plot device for the other character’s issues, and not actually the focus of the film. It’s been ages since I saw the movie though, so…

  3. I’d like to see a film about Sofonisba Anguissola (1532-1625) … an Italian woman who made a successful career as a painter (mostly portraits) in the Spanish court.

    Also, a film about Edith Head would be fun.

    1. Sofonisba! That’s who I was trying to remember! She was not only a very successful artist, but on the whole had a reasonably happy personal life as well, even marrying a handsome younger man at one point, and living to a ripe old age. Now *there’s* a girl power story for you!

  4. Hi! Lately a tv series was made about previous era female artist (BBC I guess, but really can’t remember who’s production it was, or the title of the series, sorry:( ), but it had noted several amazingly talanted women! For example, during the reneisance a woman wanted to study sculpture, naturaly she was turned down, sculpture making was a male job. So she started to carve small almond, peach, plum, etc. cores! Another lady of the Netherlands got famous around all of Eurpe with her marveillous paper cutting skills, and made a fortune from it. Besides all the turned-down, ignored and under rated femali painters Anna Maria Garthwaite got mentioned too, as much the best textil designer!

  5. The women of abstract expressionism: Elaine de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner, and their peers. The costumes would be a treat, mid 1950’s NYC bohemianism, and I think it would be fun to flip the script and have a movie with the famous men (Pollock, Rothko, de Kooning) acting in the background with the plot and visual attention focused on the women and their relationships to each other.

  6. What about Callot Soeurs, a French Fashion house run by three sisters: Marie, Marthe, Regina, and Josephine. Their clothes are amazing. Just visit LACMA, the Met & V&A .

  7. Maria Cosway — Anglo-Italian artist (1760-1838), who painted fashionable London society and folks from all over Europe, including Napoleon. Oh, and she had an affair (of the heart, if not the body) with Thomas Jefferson. They corresponded for the rest of his life.


  8. Elsa Schiaparelli. I mean, I’m amazed it hasn’t even been done yet. She had quite a colourful life packed with incident, she produced seriously amazing 1920s-50s clothing, and she was a single parent with a disabled child (luckily not a permanent disability) – and she was clearly splendidly mad too. I kinda want to see the reenactment of the fancy dress party where Coco Chanel (dressed as herself) tried to set her deeply loathed rival’s (“that Italian artist that makes dresses”) surrealist oak-tree costume on fire….

    Plus there’s all that Surrealisty stuff too – the collaborations with Dali (“NO, Salvador, you CANNOT spread mayonnaise on Wallis Simpson’s lobster dress…”) and Jean Cocteau, and costuming Mae West (and indeed, taking Mae West’s torso cast as the inspiration for her most famous perfume bottle.) Seriously, there’s almost too much here to pack into a single film – you have comedy, pathos, tragedy, bad romantic decisions, better romantic decisions, war, political statements (her Dali-co-designed ripped-up Tears Dress was in response to the Spanish Civil War), oh, just so much.

    1. As someone who regularly gets in arguments with my fiance over “Chanel vs. Schiaparelli” I’m SO down for a Schiaparelli movie, because I’m on the side of “that Italian woman.”

      1. I need a fiance/partner like that. (Definitely a BIG Schiap fan too – I have two (possibly three) of her actual designed-by-her garments and they are among my dearest possessions.)

        1. He and I also have the Worth Vs. Chanel debate frequently (as in, who has had a bigger impact on fashion) and I’m always on the Worth side.

          I’ve not been lucky enough to own any of her designed-by-her garments, but I have a vintage (based on the look I think it’s 50s) Schiaparelli men’s tie, but as much as I love it I can’t wear it to work because the silk is just starting to shatter.

    2. Schiapp is a great suggestion for all the reasons you mention. I came *this close* to using her as the subject for my Master’s thesis but instead chose to focus on Vigée-Lebrun. Her collaboration with Dali and the Surrealists gets sort of glanced over by fashion historians and downright minimized by art historians. She was very much a part of the later Surrealist movement — a fact that I had to go to the mat over with my art history department. *rolls eyes*

  9. I have a couple artists I’d like to see movies made about:

    First was Levi Hill, a NY daguerreotypist who developed a color photography process in 1851. Only recent research has proven that he truly did produce natural color on his plates, albeit in a limited degree. The turn of support of his work from admiration to derision would, I think, be an interesting film. I like the fact that he HAD been able to produce color, but felt the need to augment the color with tinting. I like the idea of presenting somebody who believes in their work passionately, but is complicated and not altogether perfect: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levi_Hill

    I’m surprised there’s no film to my knowledge about Walt Whitman – another complicated character who wasn’t perfect, but I think a film about him could be fascinating

    Thomas Eakins (duh.) There’s a LOT you can make a film about from his life.

    Clemintina Hawarden – I think a story dealing with her very premature death, and her relationship with her daughters, and being an early female photographer, promoting her own work would be a good candidate for a screenplay.

    There are more I’d like to see but I can’t seem to remember them at the moment.

  10. How about Emilie Louise Flöge?! She was not only the life companion of Klimt, but also a great fashion designer with a very unique style!!

  11. Anna Maria Garthwaite! Anna Maria Garthwaite! Her very existence is mysteriously fascinating, as you mention. The best remembered textile designer of the 18th century as woman who came from a completely textile-in-related background – how did this happen!? And hey, they could use the Dennis Severs House as set, lol http://www.dennissevershouse.co.uk/

    I also love the idea someone else mentioned of a Vigee-Lebrun movie. Take the idea you had for Holbein and apply it to her and the final years of the Bourbon monarchy. And imagine just how GORGEOUS a film it would make, I’m drooling just thinking about it! And I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that one of her self-portraits is an inspiration image for my next upcoming historical sewing project, nope, not at all.

    1. Oops, got a little carried away there – it was supposed to read “was a woman” not “as woman,” d’oh.

  12. Shame that Ken Russell is no longer alive because to see him direct a movie about Hieronymus Bosch because those two seem like a match made in demented Heaven.

  13. I second the Sofonisba Anguissola request and I have to say that there is yet to be a biopic on the life of Diego Velázquez (he of the Las Meninas fame), which imho would do for a fantastic movie. And one on Peter Paul Rubens too, please.

    (Coincidentally, and as far as I remember from my art history notes, both Rubens and Velázquez met so one could cameo in the movie of the other XD)

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