25 Artist Documentaries You Should Watch

Artist Documentaries

As an artist, I’m intrigued by other artists. So, I study all types: painters, authors, poets, musicians, and photographers. By learning about them, it helps me be better as an artist. Who we are as people shows in our art. So, it’s interesting to find out who they are on a deeper level. Some wanted fame, some didn’t, some were indifferent – just doing it for the love of their art.

Unhappy Endings

All of their stories are all compelling. But, a common theme is that a lot of them were extremely flawed human beings, some straddling the thin line between genius and insanity. Drug and alcohol abuse, traumas, and mental illnesses seemed to be prevalent. Thus, a lot of their stories have unhappy endings.

Video or Book

I love to read biographies and autobiographies, but I prefer to  watch a good documentary (I have seen some not-so-good ones). One aspect of the videos that you don’t get in a book is the interviews. You get to hear the words coming from them. 

So, I’m sharing with you some of my favorite artists and associated documentaries that I’ve enjoyed.

  1. Zimbelism  (George Zimbel)
  2. Fred Lyon – Living Through the Lens
  3. Manet and the Birth of Impressionism (Edouard Manet)
  4. Jay Myself (Jay Maisel)
  5. American Masters: Wyeth (Andrew Wyeth)
  6. Nothing Changes: Art for Hank’s Sake (Hank Virgona)
  7. Bill Evans: Time Remembered
  8. Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary
  9. Miles Davis Birth of The Cool 
  10. Jimi Hendrix: The Uncut Story 
  11. American Masters: Basquiat (Jean-Michel Basquiat) 
  12. Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child 
  13. Seeing Daylight: The Photography of Dorothy Bohm
  14. American Masters – Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning
  15. Andy Wharhol
  16. Amy (Amy Winehouse)
  17. Garry Winogrand: All Things are Photographable
  18. American Masters – Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey
  19. Ansel Adams: A Documentary Film
  20. John Szarkowski: A Life in Photography
  21. Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser 
  22. Marley (Bob Marley)
  23. Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise
  24. Charles Mingus: Triumph of the Underdog
  25. Don’t Blink – Robert Frank

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