At the beginning of the summer, we recommended several movies and TV shows on Netflix to watch based on your favorite art exhibitions; and with the fall quickly approaching, you’ll need a fresh list of titles that will simultaneously provide you with your beloved screen time and your art fix. For this final installment of Summer Series Favorites, we asked the team over at Sugarlift for their Top 10 art documentaries. This wonderful selection of films, compiled from the staff by Sugarlift‘s own Olivia Peabody, will help to ease you out of the laziness of summer and transition back to work and school with a thoughtful, creative mind. Here’s a little about Olivia, Sugarlift, and their Top 10 art documentaries:
Full name: Olivia Peabody
Position: Associate at Sugarlift
History: I am a proud member of the Sugarlift Art Consulting team, where I get to connect enthusiastic new art collectors and talented emerging artists every day. As a dancer raised between New York City and Paris, my whole life has revolved around the arts in all their glorious forms. I study art history at the University of Virginia, where I am also a Fralin Museum docent. I have a true passion for exposing others to art and helping them discover art they love.
Sugarlift is a New York-based art consulting service catering to a growing market of new art collectors. We take pride in creating sustainable relationships between talented, up-and-coming artists and enthusiastic new art collectors. Sugarlift works primarily with local emerging artists, supplementing their practice by connecting them with buyers. Sugarlift puts an emphasis on the marriage between art and design — we believe the two go hand-in-hand in today’s world, and we want to make simple the process of buying good, high-quality art customized to your space and personal style.
This Netflix documentary series focuses each episode on a designer at the top of his/her field. We love Abstract for shining a light on the art of design and the hard work and attention to detail that goes into design work.
A fascinating look at eight important works: Caravaggio’s David with the Head of Goliath, Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, Rembrandt’s The Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis, David’s The Death of Marat, Turner’s The Slave Ship, Van Gogh’s Wheatfield with Crows, Picasso’s Guernica, and Rothko’s Black on Maroon. The film is written and presented by Simon Schama, a foremost English historian whose analyses are both erudite and accessible.
Banksy is the world’s most elusive and one of the most skilled street artists today. His work can be found in cities around the world, including London, Bristol, New York, and Boston. Exit Through the Gift Shop presents a look into Banksy’s work, its relevance, meaning, and impact. We could watch it ten times over.
A documentary made from the best-selling book by Lynn H. Nichols, The Rape of Europa delves into the story of the “greatest art thieves in history”: the Nazis. This documentary gave us a true and deep understanding of the impact the Nazis had on the world of art, as well as an appreciation for the significance of art in human culture.
Do you love Basquiat as much as we do? The Radiant Child takes you on a journey through Basquiat’s life right from his scrappy beginnings as a teenager in New York City. It is easily accessible on Netflix and flaunts high ratings, so we had to give it a go; and we are so glad we did.
This documentary has us appreciating Peggy Guggenheim, one of the world’s most prominent art collectors of the twentieth century, more than ever before. It offers an honest glimpse into Peggy’s life and mind with the aid of recently discovered tape recordings she made for Jacqueline Bograd Weld’s biography. Being able to hear Peggy’s voice adds another level of intimacy to this documentary, making it truly special.
We are loving the documentary-style art television series these days. The ART21 Series, a PBS program, is hosted by the radiant Claire Danes and does a fantastic job of sampling contemporary visual art and artists in the States. This series could not be more relevant. We are all about it!
This documentary opens our eyes to the endless opportunity presented by the marriage of art and design through the story of Charles and Ray Eames. Mid-century America’s most creative art/design duo provide an excellent example of thinking outside the box.
Koons, Koons, Koons! This documentary takes a deep look into the iconic work of an artistic giant of our day. Is it all as simple as it seems at a glance? BBC interviews Koons himself, as well as Damien Hirst, Larry Gagosian, and other extremely prominent figures in the art world to get behind the inspiration and meaning of Koons’ work.
Renowned art critic Robert Hughes narrates this enriching documentary series, which is a must-watch for those interested in the academic side of art and who appreciate a good lecture. The fascinating content of The Shock of the New allowed us to look past the video’s sub-par quality. After eight episodes soaking up Hughes’ knowledge, we feel as informed as can be about the development of modern art from the Impressionists to the decline of Modernism. Ready to teach a class!