Monday, July 5, 2010

Artists in Movies, Plays and Operas

A new play - Red about painter Mark Rothko (1903-1970) was a recent hit in London and New York. Portraying artist, particularly painters and sculptors, particularly the working process, though easier than novelists, might be just as hard as portraying composers and poets.

Alfred Molina and Eddie Redmayne in Red at the Donmar Warehouse

However, there have been many successful efforts, particularly as motion pictures.

The most recent popular success was The Girl with Pearl Earring on Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), both due to the wildly popular novel it based on and the mesmerizing beauty of Vermeer's work.

Another recent effort from France Séraphine portrayed self-taught French painter Séraphine Louis, known as "Séraphine de Senlis" ("Séraphine of Senlis") (1864-1942), who painted in naïve style. The movie garnered great reviews and definitely I will seek it out.

The most original and daring work to me is Caravaggio on the life of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) by the Derek Jarmin. His film was as sensual as the works of the master.

Other recent notables on the life of artists include

- Little Ashes on painter Salvador Dalí (1904-1989) and poet Federico García Lorca (1898-1936)
- Pollock on Jackson Pollock (1912-1956)
- Vincent & Theo on Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)
- Carrington about a British artist Dora Carrington (1893-1932)
- Hua Hun (Soul of Painting) depicted the strange story of a Chinese woman painter Yuliang Pan (1899-1977)
- Frida on iconic Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)
- The Agony and the Ecstacy about Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475–1564)
- Goya's Ghosts on Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746 – 1828)

One of my favorite such movies was not a bio-pic rather a documentary on the philosophy and the process of the great artist Andy Goldsworthy (born 1956): Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time

Lastly, the great German painter Matthias Grünewald or "Mathis" (as first name), "Gothart" or "Neithardt" (as surname), (c. 1470 – 1528) was created for operatic stage by composer Paul Hindemith - Mathis der Maler. The opera has not been presented as frequently as it should be but as least the melodic symphony Mathis der Maler is well known. Other painters in operas are the Tosca's lover Cavaradossi, Marcello in Puccini's La bohème and the Painter in Berg's Lulu.

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