Our top selection of fantastic documentaries to challenge the way you think and quench your curiosity. We have whittled the list down to documentaries on artists, collectors, history and culture.
The Lives of the Artists
A documentary following renowned performance artist, Marina Abramovic, in the run up to her major retrospective exhibition at the MOMA in New York. Marina is credited by many with redefining the understanding of what art is.
An Academy Award winning documentary about sculptor architect Maya Lin, who designed the Vietnam War Memorial in DC at the age of 21. This film explores the story of the artist as well as the controversies around her designs. (Available on Youtube)
Directed by Marion Carjori and Amei Wallach and released two years before the artist’s death in 2010, this documentary was filmed over a 14 year period. The film explores the inner workings of Bourgeois’ mind, her inspiration, and her life story. (Available on itunes)
This documentary follows Ai Weiwei as he prepares for a series of international exhibitions and continues to clash with the Chinese government. It is an interesting look at the intersection between art and social activism.
Director Tamra Davis pays homage to her friend in this definitive documentary but also delves into Basquiat as an iconoclast. His dense, bebop-influenced neoexpressionist work emerged while minimalist, conceptual art was the fad; as a successful black artist, he was constantly confronted by racism and misconceptions. Much can be gleaned from insider interviews and archival footage, but it is Basquiat’s own words and work that powerfully convey the mystique and allure of both the artist and the man. – Sundance Film Festival
A candid love story that chronicles the 40 year marriage of boxing painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife, Noriko. In her pursuit of making her own name, Noriko fights the role of her husband’s assistant.
Charles and Ray Eames were America’s most important and influential industrial design team. A husband-and-wife duo admired for their creations as much as their personal story.
Documentary chronicling the famed street artist’s “31 works of art in 31 days” in New York city.
A documentary on the German artist that includes glimpses at his studio, which has not been seen in decades.
Inventor Tim Jenison seeks to understand the painting techniques used by Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer.
Filmmaker Paul Hasegawa-Overacker was invited to interview the very private photographer Cindy Sherman in her studio. Throughout the interview process the filmmaker and photographer fall in love and begin a relationship. This documentary chronicles their time together and the ups and downs of celebrity life, gender dynamics and intimacy. (Available on Prime Video in some countries)
Lives of the Collectors
Art addict, heiress, icon. This documentary is based on the only authorized biography of one of our favourite collectors. (Available on Amazon Prime.)
Director Don Argott’s documentary about the controversial move of the Barnes art collection to downtown Philadelphia, The Art of the Steal, is so adamantly against the relocation that it feels as if the viewer is watching evidence presented in a murder trial.
An interesting documentary that looks at the relationship between art and money.