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Artflix & Chill: Videos to Watch During Quarantine

Updated: Apr 24, 2020

During times like this where we may find ourselves with more down time than usual, we have the opportunity to fill our time with things we may not be able to on a regular basis. That might include more exercising, reading some new books (and if you’re interested, I do have a suggested reading list), or watching something entertaining! For me, it can be difficult to find time to watch TV series, movies, and documentaries because I’m on the move a lot. But when I get the chance I enjoying watching different movies, documentaries, and even panel discussions as a way to actively learn and be entertained. So, for this post I wanted to share some awesome videos that will grab and hold your attention.

1. The Art of the Steal

Run time: 1 hour, 41 minutes

Description: Documentary that follows the struggle for control of Dr. Albert C. Barnes' 25 billion dollar collection of modern and post-impressionist art.

I remember watching this documentary a few years ago. I was extremely intrigued by the story of how The Barnes Collection was moved from the small town of Marion, PA to the main strip of Philadelphia’s downtown area (sidenote: I visited it once and it was spectacular!).

The events depicted in this film leave so much room for debate! It touches on topics such as: how the organization’s financial situation left them vulnerable, how the government screwed Lincoln University out of the collection’s ownership, how the people of Marion’s complaints were used against them, and much more! This quote I found on IMDB’s website does a great job summing up what you are about to watch:

“‘The Art of the Steal’ is a great documentary because they even managed to get people like 'educator' Richard Glanton, the Governor of Pennsylvania, the Mayor of Philadelphia, and a corrupt judge to speak in front of the camera admitting to what they did, in direct opposition to the law, completely nonchalant to their immoral actions. And the world just has to sit back and watch them commit the greatest crime ever.”

2. Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child

Run time: 1 hour, 33 minutes

Description: A thoughtful portrait of a renowned artist, this documentary shines the spotlight on New York City painter Jean-Michel Basquiat. Featuring extensive interviews conducted by Basquiat's friend, filmmaker Tamra Davis, the production reveals how he dealt with being a black artist in a predominantly white field. The film also explores Basquiat's rise in the art world, which led to a close relationship with Andy Warhol, and looks at how the young painter coped with acclaim, scrutiny and fame.

If you are a Basquiat fan, or if you just want to learn about one of the most famous artists of our lifetime (even though he died before I was born), this documentary does a great job of capturing all aspects of his life. From his upbringing, to his graffiti days, to his rise to fame, this documentary tells amazing stories about how some of his shows received horrible reviews and how he used to throw food at people that only wanted to collect his work because they thought it would look good in their living rooms… From start to finish I loved watching this film!

3. Loving Vincent

Run time: 1 hour, 34 minutes

Description: In a story depicted in oil painted animation, a young man comes to the last hometown of painter Vincent van Gogh to deliver the troubled artist's final letter and ends up investigating the artist's final days.

This was one of the most anticipated movies to come out in 2017 by many art lovers. It is one of the coolest animated films I’ve seen in awhile. They basically tell a story of Vincent van Gogh through his own paintings. They animated his pieces and added narratives and voice-overs to them. Overall, its a spectacular film. You can rent it on YouTube for $3.99 - very reasonable.

4. More Art Upstairs

Run time: 1 hour, 17 minutes

Description: A revolution is taking place in the art world and it isn’t happening in Paris, Berlin or Hong Kong—but in Grand Rapids, Michigan. ArtPrize is the most highly attended art show in the world, and it awards cash prizes larger than all other competitions combined. International critics and enormous crowds pack bars, galleries and abandoned buildings all over town, taking in over 1,500 works from cerebral conceptualists and weekend hobbyists. An acclaimed jury awards a winner $200,000 and the ballot-carrying public does the same. Nimble cameras follow four artists, each vying not only for critical recognition but for every public vote they can drum up. Part classy game show, part engaging art exploration, More Art Upstairs captures the debates ArtPrize has intentionally (or inadvertently?) triggered: Can culture be democratized? Do artists need or want to connect with audiences? And is the canonical art establishment on its way out?

In May of 2019, I had the pleasure of sitting down with the documentary’s director Jody Hassett Sanchez and having a conversation with her in front of an audience after a film screening at Creative Alliance. We talked about the importance of audience experience, fine art vs “craft”, who the gatekeepers of the artworld are, and more. This in-depth film allows for this sort of conversation. You can rent it on YouTube for $3.99 - again, very reasonable.

5. Artist Talk w/ Derrick Adams: Baltimore’s Emergence

Run time: 1 hour, 1 minute

Description: Our Visual Arts Curator Thomas James sat down with world-renowned artist Derrick Adams to explore what it means to be “emerging” in the fine arts industry.

In January 2020, I had the great pleasure of sitting down and talking one-on-one with world-renown artist Derrick Adams - someone I consider a mentor and friend (and Roberta attended the talk😃). This conversation touched on some very important topics including: why it is important for artists to attend residencies, how to go about achieving a Masters in Fine Arts (MFA) degree, the importance of being patient, how non-artists can support the arts, and a whole lot more! Derrick dropped GEMS 💎 during this conversation. Luckily we were able to have this recorded and distributed to the public (thank you Aaron!).

For #6, I want to share a couple of videos instead of just one:

First video is:

Jacob Lawrence, The Migration Series (long version)

Run time: 11 minutes, 24 seconds

Description: Jacob Lawrence, The Migration Series, 1940-41, 60 panels, tempera on hardboard (even numbers at The Museum of Modern Art, odd numbers at the Phillips Collection) Speakers: Dr. Steven Zucker and Dr. Beth Harris.

The second video is:

Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and the Legacy of Jim Crow | MoMA LIVE

Run time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

Description: In conjunction with the exhibition "One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North," a trio of leading social-justice activists will discuss the legacy of Jim Crow. The event features Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Director, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; Sherrilyn Ifill, President, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; and Cornell Brooks, President and CEO, NAACP.

I think these videos should be watched back-to-back because the first one explains Jacob Lawrence's infamous Migration Series and how and why it was created. Then the second video explains why, after all of these years, the content is still relevant today.

Experiencing art is more than just viewing it in person. Hearing stories like how the Barnes Collection ended up in Philadelphia or learning about why you frequently hear certain artists' names like Basquiat are important to the overall art experience. I hope these videos can help relax your mind during these uncertain times - I guarantee you’ll be entertained while learning at the same time.

Please let me know your thoughts and send some videos my way! I’d love to see what you all are watching!


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