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ontemporary art

Painting and sculpture since 1945

Pollock -- 2000
"For this biopic, starring (and directed by) Ed Harris as Jackson Pollock, with Marcia Gay Harden in her Oscar-winning role as his wife Lee Krasner, more than 150 copies of actual paintings by both artists were created. There's also a scene at the 1942 opening of Peggy Guggenheim's New York gallery, Art of This Century, in which replicas of works from her collection of abstract and Surrealist art by Miro, Ernst, Duchamp, Delvaux and others are featured. The gallery interior and furnishings, designed by the architect Frederick Kiesler, were also recreated for the film."
Helen Harrison, Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center
Mona Lisa Smile -- 2003
"In Mona Lisa Smile, Julia Roberts plays an art history professor. I was particularly impressed with the impression that Pollock's splash paintings made on very traditional coeds at an all girls college in the 1950s. What struck me was that the experience of being face to face with a Pollock work was so evident in the girls' faces."
Roberta Sheahan, Butler Community College
Play it Again, Sam -- 1972
"Here is a reference link to an exchange about Pollock from the movie Play it Again Sam, by Woody Allen."
John Lofaso, Central Virginia Community College
Sabrina -- 1995
"How about Linus' Manhattan office in the remake of Sabrina, decorated with some standard Ab Ex fare, including, if memory serves well, a Rothko, a Newman, Pollock's Blue Poles and some diverse and sundry Giacomettis."
Nancy Nield, U. of Chicago
Throw Momma from the Train -- 1987
"In the 1987 film Throw Momma From The Train starring Billy Crystal and Danny De Vito, towards the beginning of the film Alberto Giacommeti's portrait of Jean Genet (1954) can be seen in the background hanging on the wall of Billy Crystal's living room."
Matt Melia
Last Tango in Paris -- 1973
"Francis Bacon's paintings were used for the titles of Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris."
Elizabeth DelAlamo, Montclair
The Horse's Mouth -- 1958
"The Horse's Mouth - makes fun out of the obsessive drive of a creative curmudgeon and makes fun of just about all the other aspects of art once it leaves the easel. Also makes you want to drop everything and start creating. Wonderful paintings of feet! Wonderful eccentric performance by Alex Guiness."
Alex Pirie
"Alec Guinness scripted, and starred in this 1958 adaptation ofJoyce Carey's novel.Guiness is Gulley Jimson, a gravel-voiced, antisocial painter, whose artistic drive is single-minded and self-absorbed. Jimson inhabits and mostly destroys a penthouse apartment when the owners go on holiday. Hegathers an army of apprentices to create a masterpiece on a giant wall in a condemned building. The paintings,colorful and thick, are by artist John Bratby."
Arthur Greenblatt
"One of the ultimate movies about a modern artist is Ronald Neame's 1958 filming of The Horse's Mouth by Joyce Cary, with Alec Guinness playing the misanthropic anti-hero Gulley Jimson. Jimson's behavior with his patrons reminded me of the Dutch painter Emanuel de Witte, who also cheated customers and protectors and had a nasty disposition."
Gary Schwartz, CODART
Batman -- 1989
"In Batman, directed by Tim Burton and designed by the late Anton Furst, in the gallery are numerous works of art including a Francis Bacon that Jack Nicholson's "Joker" likes enough so as to stop one of his goons from defacing it."
Hideki Arichi
"The Joker stops one of his goons from slashing the Francis Bacon painting called either Figure with Meat or Head Surrounded by Sides of Beef which is a warped version of Velasquez's portrait of Pope Innocent X. The Joker says: "I kind of like this one, Bob. Leave it." Jack Nicholson as the Joker then sits down with Kim Basinger and has a discussion where he declares, "I am the world's first fully functioning homicidal artist.""
Chris FitzGerald
An Unmarried Woman -- 1978
"In An Unmarried Woman Alan Bates plays a painter who pours paint on canvas a la Louis (although the pouring was done by Jenkins I think). The pouring sequence is included in the film."
Percy North, Montgomery College
Colors -- 1988
"One of the most famous and remarkable artistic monuments of Los Angeles are the Watts Towers, designed and built by the folk or outsider artist Simon or Sam Rodia (1879-1965) during the period 1921 to 1954. The three towers, one of which is almost 100 feet tall, are made from steel, concrete, broken plates, bottles, shells and tiles, and are located in a black ghetto that was the scene of riots and burnings in 1965. In 1988, the towers appeared in a feature film directed by Dennis Hopper and starring Sean Penn and Robert Duvall as two cops. Sarah Schrank has commented:
"In a perverse case of art imitating life, the damaged Watts Towers [that is, damaged by bungled attempts at restoration] appear in the movie Colors (1988) ... which deals with gang violence in South Central. Gang members fleeing the scene of a drive-by shooting are chased through Watts by cops. The neighborhood is flagged for knowing viewers by a long shot of the towers; the scene climaxes with the getaway car crashing into them and exploding, blowing both the towers and the gang members sky high. Hopper uses the Watts Towers metaphorically to show how the black community is torn apart by gang warfare, police violence, and drugs. With Hollywood special effects on his side, Hopper smashes and incinerates what the municipal government never could quite manage to: the towers and what they have popularly come to represent - black community. Then, in another twist, the towers appear once more in their former splendor at the end of the film." (quote from an essay in Reading California [2001], cited in my book Art & Celebrity [2003])"
John A. Walker
The Last Don -- 1997
"In the made-for-tv mini-series The Last Don some scenes are shot in California houses decorated with what looks like, among others, Frank Stellas and Alexander Calders (I had no way of ascertaining if these are genuine works of the artists or imitations)."
Jerzy Kutnik, Maria Curie-Sklodowska University
Vanilla Sky -- 2001
"In the movie, Vanilla Sky, there are many references to art, both discussed, as well as displayed, i.e. a Monet, a Van Gogh, and others. What I found especially surprising and delightful was the inclusion of Robert Rauschenberg. He was Tom Cruise's father in flashback images. There were old films and old photos of Rauschenberg. There was also a giant, superrealism painting of Rauschenberg's smiling face in the style of older Chuck Close's works in Tom Cruise's apartment."
Ann James-Herron, Regis University
"The name of the movie comes from Monet's painting La Seine a Argenteuil (1873) which is sometimes known as "Vanilla Sky"; this is the painting Tom Cruise has in his apartment in the movie."
Chris FitzGerald
The First Wives Club -- 1996
"This movie opened with works by Lichtenstein in the credits. During the movie, there were references to Warhol's silk screen portraits of celebrities. Instead of using Warhol's actual portraits, Goldie Hawn's image was used. This was either a pun, or a postmodern artist's appropriation of the Warhol style."
Donna Oricoli
Excess Baggage -- 1997
"The 1997 film Excess Baggage which stars Alicia Silverstone has the Elvis Presley painting done by Andy Warhol in Alicia's living room. There is a large panning shot which gets practically the whole canvas in the one shot. There are also modern art pieces of furniture from the MoMA in her house. An interesting film which tends to surprise..."
Nancy Sparrow
Rubin and Ed -- 1991
"Written and directed by Trent Harris, starring Crispen Glover and Howard Hessman. This early 90's doppelganger road film about identity and mortality contains a few scenes where the split protagonists discuss the success or failure of Andy Warhol as an artist and as a person. An interesting side note is that Crispen Glover later portrayed Andy Warhol in the film The Doors. I have used this film in class for the sake of discussing identity, duality, and symbolic meaning. Not for the squeamish or faint of heart."
Keith Conley, Community College of Southern Nevada
The New Age -- 1994
"Directed by Michael Tolkin, starring Judy Davis and Peter Weller. Interesting minor roles include performance artists Rachel Rosenthal and the late, mighty Bob Flanagan. A gorgeous 1980's Ed Ruscha seascape is featured prominently as part of the protagonists' rapidly dissipating art collection. When the Ruscha goes to auction, we know the high life is gone for good ..."
Christine Lorenz
King of Comedy -- 1983
"Scorsese's King of Comedy interiors were all designed by contemporary artists of note, if I remember correctly"
Robert Belton, OUC
Dressed to Kill -- 1980
"The sequence of Kate's visit to the Museum is located in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, standing in for the Met on Fifth Avenue. Producer George Littoand filmmaker Brian De Palma decided the location:both grew up in Philadelphia. It is a very long visit, almost wordless in the labyrinth of the Museum's rooms. At first Kate (Angie Dickinson) is seating on a bench before an Alex Katz painting. It was said to be reminiscent of the shot of Madeleine on a bench in a Museum in Vertigo, a reverence to Hitchcock. Then a reclining gorilla seems to be apartfrom aNew York School and maybe temporary exhibition we are mostly going through, with paintings by Frank Stella, Morris Louis, Robert Rauschenberg, Hans Hofmann among others. Most of them, including nudes by Philip Pearlstein, are well-composed backgrounds for the twist-and-turn, stop-and-go of thetwo characters. Standing Woman (Elevation), a bronze by Gaston Lachaise, is the only sculpture playing a role in a voyeur's gaze wandering, a mix of intellect and libido, magnetism and fascination. "
Emmanuel Herbulot
I Shot Andy Warhol -- 1996
Basquiat -- 1996
"It's another matter entirely to consider films which focus on the persona of the artist, such as Camille Claudel, or films that offer a view of a certain artist's work. I was interested too, in a documentary film about Maya Lin's work. To me these films offer more in terms of the study of art, and reveal cultural assumptions about the place of the artist (male or female) in contemporary society. I'd recommend I Shot Andy Warhol (a real revelation, about separatist feminism and the rejection of radical politics by the neo-avant-garde, Warhol in this case) and Julien Schnabel's Basquiat."
Claudia Mesch, U. of Chicago
"The movie Basquiat (1994) has, of course, the entire Basquiat career from his graffiti artist days as SAMO to his collaborations with Warhol, it also has some late Warhols (I think there was Guns and Knives in there) as well as some Haring -- and a great message about how the arts world treats race and class"
Dick Easton
The Myth of Fingerprints -- 1997
"Recent release, The Myth of the Fingerprints, produced by my brother, Tim Perell, features a wonderful Chuck Close self portrait in the opening scene. Actress Julianne Moore reflects and relates to the despair in the artist's expression."
Stephanie Perell, Cricket Hill Contemporary British Art
Baby Boom -- 1987
"In the 1987 movie Baby Boom, with Diane Keaton, the final scene in a typical American corporate boardroom of the 80s, has a large Frank Stella "shaped canvas." I often comment on this scene in discussing so-called public art as it embraced images which would have been cutting-edge twenty years earlier, but by the 80s has become a sign of being progressive and "with it" without taking any real risks -- the corporate "safe avant-garde.""
Peggy E. Schrock, Murray State University
Cadillac Ranch -- 1997
"The film Cadillac Ranch was inspired by the work of the same title - ten Cadillacs buried hood-down in a row on a farm outside Amarillo. They are not merely a backdrop, they "act.""
Jerzy Kutnik, Maria Curie-Sklodowska University
Catchfire -- 1990
"As an actor, Dennis Hopper has often played psychotic killers. For example, in Catchfire (a.k.a. Backtrack), he played the part of a hit man called Milo hired by the Mafia to find and eliminate a female artist called Anne Benton played by Jodie Foster because she had witnessed a murder. (Hopper also directed Catchfire but after a disagreement over editing, he had his name removed from the credits and so the director's name became "Alan Smithee.") Benton is a conceptual artist noted for her slogan-type art displayed on moving electronic signs. This character is clearly based on the real American artist Jenny Holzer (b. 1950), author of such slogans as "Abuse of power comes as no surprise" and "Money creates taste," and in fact, Hopper engaged Holzer to make the art works used in the film. Slogans that appear in the film include: "Protect me from what I want" and "Lack of charisma can be fatal." To trace Benton, Milo undertakes a crash course in contemporary art: he visits a gallery show of her work and buys a sign which flashes: "Killing is unavoidable but is nothing to be proud of." When he shows it to his Mafia bosses - Vincent Price plays Don Lino Avoca - one hood complains about the waste of money but another sees an investment opportunity because "when the broad dies, the prices go through the roof." In another amusing scene, Milo studies a conceptual art publication. Its convoluted language and philosophical conundrums strain his brain and he asks: "What the **** am I doing...?" Benton tries to escape her pursuers by moving to another city, assuming a new identity and finding work as an advertising copywriter, but Milo is now sufficiently knowledgeable to be able to recognise her style and so penetrate her cover.
Bob Dylan also appears in Catchfire in a cameo role as an artist who modifies abstract painted wooden constructions with the aid of a chainsaw. In addition, works of art by Botticelli, Bosch and Georgia O'Keeffe are briefly cited. It is highly unlikely that so many artistic references would have appeared in such an otherwise typical Hollywood thriller without Hopper's awareness of art from both the past and the present. (Quote from my book Art & Celebrity, [2003])"
John A. Walker
New York Stories -- 1989
"The film consists of three separate stories directed by three different directors: Woody Allen, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorsese. The story that pertains to this subject is titled "Life Lessons." Directed by Scorsese, it stars Nick Nolte as a Neo-expressionist painter. Great shots of him working on a large canvas, huge loft space and 80s gallery scene."
Sherri Hill, Manatee Community College
"New York Stories, 3 directors, a series of short films (incl. Woody Allen)."Life Lessons" - artworks by Chuck Connelly, Richard Phillips, Judy Pfaff and others seen in a collector's house; art collection advised by Holly Solomon. Chuck Connelly's hands are used for the character playedby Nick Nolte. Great close-up of Connelly painting."
Bill Arning and Kathleen MacQueen
The Devil's Advocate -- 1997
"The movie, The Devil's Advocate, starring Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino, once showed images carved by the sculptor Frederick Hart. On the West Front of the National Cathedral in Washington DC, Mr. Hart carved in the tympanum of each portal, carvings representing the story of creation - on the north the creation of day, in the center (pictured in the movie) the creation of humankind, and the creation of night on the south. In the movie, the images of Adam and Eve appeared to come alive and engage in intimate contact. Because the producers of the movie did not get permission from Mr. Hart nor the National Cathedral to use this image, they were sued by the artist and the National Cathedral. Later releases of the video has the images of Mr. Hart's sculpture altered. Frederick Hart is known for the powerful bronze statue of three soldiers at the National Vietnam Memorial."
Charles Wright, Coastal Carolina Univ.
Wall Street -- 1987
"Also, didn't Wall Street have Gordon Gecco's home full of contemporary art?"
Robin Masi, School of the MFA, Boston
"The movie Wall Street is mentioned in your site, but no artists are named; here is one:
In the scene where the main character (played by Charlie Sheen) sets up his apartment, one of the high-price objects they focus on is a Julian Schnabel plate painting (a comment on the value of 80s painting as commodity and status symbol)."
Giovanni Garcia-Fenech
Great Expectations -- 1998
"In the 1998 remake of Great Expectations, the protagonist, Finnegan Bell experiences a meteoric rise to fame as a New York artist. The artwork looks primitive and organic--somewhat naive and somehow familiar. The numerous drawings are featured in the opening credits, a scene where Finn paints nudes of Ms. Gwyneth Paltrow's character, and in the Finn's gallery opening scene. Once one stops suspending belief that the gifted redneck executed such works, one realizes that these featured drawings are by none other than Francesco Clemente."
William V. Ganis, S.U.N.Y., Stony Brook
The Cell -- 2000
"I don't know if you have seen the movie The Cell with Jennifer Lopez in it. The most obvious art refrence I found in that movie was in refrence to Damien Hirst's piece called Some comfort gained from the acceptance of the inherent lies in everything (1996) in where he has a cow chopped in slices and spread apart in formaldahyde. In one scene in The Cell a horse is split apart and shown in a similar way. Also I noticed in one part a direct reference to Odd Nerdrum's Dawn. The whole movie was visually stunning (thats why I like it actually). To me there is a general feeling of some sort of mix between Matthew Barney and Hans Bellmer gone even more nightmarish."
Cathy V.
American Psycho -- 2000
"In American Pyscho the new movie, McCollum's Plaster Surrogates is clearly referenced/placed on the wall of the main characters apartment."
Pamela Combacau
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