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Who Would You Pick To Play Picasso? Plus, Best And Worst Artists’ Films

Most movies about art and artists leave a lot to be desired. We shall see how Picasso is treated in a movie about the making of Guernica, with Antonio Banderas starring as the artist. Banderas, who like Picasso is a Malaga native, said that he “turned down the chance at one point of playing Mr. Pablo, but the time has come in my life where I understand him better, and I am nearly at the age he was when those events happened, in 1937, when he was 55 or 56, and I’m getting close,” according to Fox News Latino. Banderas is 54.

Antonio_BanderasCarlos Saura will direct the movie, to be called “33 dias.” That’s about how long Picasso spent painting Guernica

Oh, the movie will also star Gwyneth Paltrow; IMDB says she is “rumored” to be playing Dora Maar.

You can find a few more details are here, but there’s nothing on a production schedule. IMDB puts release as 2015, and lists more cast and crew members.

I couldn’t think of any good artists’ biopics — I haven’t seen that many — but it turns out that Getty curators have been pondering the question, and they made a list. In a February blog post about art in movies, they named these as “the best biopics”:

  • The Moon and Sixpence (1942), about the life of Paul Gauguin
  • Moulin Rouge (1952), about Henri de Toulouse–Lautrec
  • The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965), starring Charlton Heston as Michelangelo
  • Caravaggio (1986), about the story late-Renaissance master
  • Camille Claudel (1988), about the tormented sculptor (and Rodin’s muse)
  • Basquiat (1996), about the brilliant American painter
  • Artemisia (1997), about the 16th painter
  • Pollock (2000), which includes the story of one of the artist’s most important commissions, Mural, 1943

That post also lists movies, good and bad, that have “art on the big screen.” Where do you think they put Legal Eagles, about the Rothko case?



  1. French director Gilles Bourdos’ 2012 film, Renoir, with Michel Bouquet as the painter and Christa Theret as his model is a really well-done artist biography. You can see my review of the film here:

  2. madbrooklyn says:

    What about Peter Watkins’s EDVARD MUNCH, the old REMBRANDT biopic with Charles Laughton, or (perhaps a closer parallel to the proposed GUERNICA, THE MILL AND THE CROSS?

  3. The best artist biopic I’ve ever seen didn’t make the list. It’s Robert Altman’s 1989 Vincent and Theo starring Tim Roth as Van Gogh. It’s a beautiful movie, and an antidote to the sentimental Van Gogh portrayed by Kirk Douglas in Lust for Life (in which the lead actors notoriously mispronounced Millet’s name as ‘Millais,’ a different painter altogether).

  4. Josh Reynolds says:

    I think they got Picasso right, but Paltrow as Dora Maar? Couldn’t be a worse choice. Probably chosen because of her father being a Hollywood producer. I would actually have chosen Mini Driver. Her angular jaw and not ‘pretty’ face looks more like Maar than Paltrow ever would. Besides, Paltrow is an insipid actress.

    I look forward to seeing the film as when I first started in the art business I joined the Modern and used to spend my lunch hour seated in front of Guernica. What a painting. It is the Sistine Chapel of the 20th Century. What a painting.

  5. Hello Judith, Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1966 film, ‘Andrei Rublev’, is an extraordinary meditation on the 15th century Russian icon painter, a visually startling masterpiece. Carlos Saura’s ‘Goya in Bordeaux’ is a wonderful film on the last years of the great Spanish painter’s (one of my absolute favorite artists) life while he lives in voluntary exile in Bordeaux, France. I very much enjoyed the film called ‘Crumb’, Terry Zwigoff’s 1994 documentary about the comix artist Robert Crumb. Paul Leduc’s ‘Frida, Naturaleza Viva (Still Life)’, a film made in Mexico in 1986 is quite good. I think it is better than the Hollywood version, ‘Frida’, with Salma Hayek. I found ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ to be a lovely meditation on the rare and marvelous artist Vermeer. ‘A Soul Haunted by Painting’ with Li Gong as the Chinese woman painter Yu-liang is poignant and very interesting. ‘Seraphine’ (2008) about the out-sider French woman artist is beautifully conceived. I just saw ‘Camille Claudel 1915’ with Juliette Binoche and it was riveting, a quiet stark look at the artist confined in an asylum just as World War I is breaking out. ‘Carrington’ filmed in 1995 with Emma Thompson as the artist Dora Carrington tells the compelling story of her relationship with Lytton Strachey, author and one of the founders of the Bloomsbury Group. All these films are well worth a look! Enjoy.

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