If you’re at home struggling to fend off boredom, you’re not alone. Students just like you are sitting around wondering what to do, and how to get creative and engaged with something while you’re stuck at home. And even in non-quarantine times, these 11 Youtube art documentaries are great launching pads to get you back into art and creative practice.
Maybe you just need that push back into whatever gets you motivated. Whatever kind of artist you might be, you’re guaranteed to find some art documentaries that you’ll enjoy in the playlist below. Or, watch them all!
I can vouch, they’re all pretty amazing and make me want to get off my butt and get back to creating.
Artist Hebru Brantley Wants to Inspire You With Hopes and Heroes in “On the Edge”
In one of Complex’s great short art documentaries, Chicago native Hebru Brantley talks influences, Bob Ross, and superheroes. You might’ve seen Brantley’s bright and larger-than-life work on the side of a building around the city, on some Nikes, or in a Chance the Rapper music video. His iconic Flyboy and Flygirl characters are symbols of hope, play, and endurance, and are international reminders of Chicago’s thriving culture.
Discover the King of Street Art: Keith Haring
This mini-doc about iconic NYC artist Keith Haring packs tons of information into four minutes. Haring’s cartoon men, dogs, and hearts are ubiquitous today. You’ve almost certainly seen them somewhere, but maybe didn’t know the source. Haring’s life and method is inspirational to young artists who are just starting out. Before reaching his meteoric heights, Haring was making simple chalk drawings on NYC subway billboards. Art can exist and thrive anywhere.
Yayoi Kusama- Obsessed with Polka Dots
Yayoi Kusama’s story is the forgotten history of Pop Art. In America we often think only of giants like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. But, Kusama was just as important and influential in the development of this movement. She is chronically underrepresented when discussing Pop Art, and many have never heard of her or seen her art. This video is a great jumping off point for getting familiar with this enigmatic artist. Her polka dots, infinity mirrors, and bold patterns are her calling cards. After watching this video, you too will be obsessed with polka dots!
Georges Seurat’s Sunday on La Grande Jatte
This video from the Art Institute’s Youtube channel explores one of the museum’s most famous pieces. Sunday on La Grande Jatte is known internationally as an example of pointillism. How cool is it that you can just pop on over to the Art Institute and see it for yourself? When it reopens of course!
Art + Life Rules from a Nun
Sister Corita Kent is undeniably a one-of-a-kind artist. A nun who used bright and innovative printmaking to present messages of love and guidance, Kent was an exciting component of American Pop Art. This video from the Art Assignment presents her rules for art (and honestly life in general). Her poetic and thoughtful maxims for art and those who practice it are essential for young artists.
The Case for Abstraction
If you’ve ever been puzzled by abstract art, this video is a thorough and persuading view of its merits. There is a historical overview of the transition to abstraction as well as a synthesis of ideas about abstract art’s purpose. In the same way that music can make you feel without telling you explicitly what it’s about, abstract art provokes emotion. You can look at a piece and cry or laugh, simply because of the color and the composition. This video makes it clear that abstract art is just as full of thought, theory, and concepts as traditional representational art!
Art Cooking: Frida Kahlo
Art Cooking is just a fantastic show that is worth sharing (I’ve watched every single video). It takes different famous artists and cooks food that they would have eaten in a day interspersed with biographical information. It’s incredibly historically accurate and informative. Plus, you might end up pretty hungry at the end of each episode. Luckily, you’ve just learned some new recipes!
In this video, the chefs make chile rellenos, white rice with plantains, and nopales salad (plus a very Frida-esque tequila shot for dessert!). Kahlo is a fascinating artist who led a long and jam-packed life. This video explores her influences, her surreal imagery, and her attitude towards food and entertaining.
How to Paint Like Jackson Pollock
Maybe you’ve heard someone say that anyone could have painted a Jackson Pollock painting. Well now is your chance! Corey D’Augustine teaches you how to paint like one of the most famous and controversial artists in history. You might realize that it’s a bit more complicated, and time-intensive than you thought. Pollock’s paintings are often more about the action and process of creating them than the final product. This is why he inspired the term Action Painting, as a label for his style and the style of some of his contemporaries. If you have time (and lots of space!) this is a fun and inspiring activity to try.
The Story of Virgil Abloh
If you’re a follower of streetwear and designer culture, or just simply a resident of Chicago, you’ve probably heard of Virgil Abloh. He had a sensational show at the Museum of Contemporary Art last year, and has been consistently rocking out as a designer for years. He recently became the first black artistic director of Louis Vuitton, one of the world’s largest and most important fashion houses. He’s a shining example of an interdisciplinary artist, dipping his toes into visual art, fashion design, and architecture. His story is inspiring and engaging, and this video does a great job of summing it up so far.
Kerry James Marshall: Mastry
Kerry James Marshall is the most famous black painter alive. His decorative scenes packed with symbols and history feature only black subjects, and always have. His intention is to bring representations of black people into storied art institutions and an art canon that has consistently left them out. Hearing Marshall talk about his art and his practice is exciting and draws you in. He’s a genius at his craft, but makes sure that his work is accessible to anyone who might need it. If you missed his retrospective at the MCA, we’re so sorry!!!
How the Mona Lisa Became So Overrated
Ending on something that reminds you not to take art so seriously (no matter how famous it might be) seems appropriate. This video explains the true story of how the Mona Lisa became the most famous painting in the world. Not to spoil anything, but it involves a heist, mystery, intrigue, and international skullduggery. You’ll never be able to look at this iconic image the same way again! This is a reminder not to be intimidated or held back by anything when it comes to art. Art can get famous for weird reasons. So get crackin’ on the next Mona Lisa!
We hope you enjoyed these fabulous art documentaries. Check out some of IPMM’s other resources for artists and art teachers on our blog!
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