“Draw me like one of your French girls” certainly rings a bell, but some big-screen art cameos are a little more subtle. From providing the perfect backdrop for a romantic stroll to strengthening a film’s central themes, paintings are more than a beautiful sight, playing a pivotal role in the tone of a scene. For these reasons, we’ve mapped out a walk down memory lane that’ll revisit some of the best art features in films.
1. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
On Ferris’s epic day off, he has to hit up one of the hottest locations in the Windy City, The Art Institute of Chicago. Though it does seem like Sloane and Ferris get the better end of the deal, as they share a sweet kiss in front of Chagall’s stained glass windows, while Cameron has a staring contest with a character in Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.
2. Skyfall (2012)
If you’ve ever sat on a bench in London’s National Gallery of Art, who knew you were that much closer to living the life of 007? The painting to the left of Bond, Joseph Wright of Derby’s Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump (1768), highlights the science explored in the 18th century, at the start of the Industrial Revolution. These themes strengthen the messages of modernity and change displayed throughout the film.
3. Titanic (1997)
From Jack sketching Rose to a Monet waterlily cameo, Titanic is full of beautiful art moments. After boarding the ship, Rose holds up Picasso’s now famous Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, currently on view at the MoMA. Ironically, the character Cal remarks how the artist won’t ever amount to anything; little did he know.
4. Manhattan (1979)
In Woody Allen’s ’79 film, he strolls through the galleries of the old Whitney with his love interest, Diane Keaton. There’s not much else that can be more New York than a Woody Allen film starring himself and featuring the city he calls home.
5. American Psycho (2000)
The sleek lines and suited silhouette shown in Robert Longo’s untitled painting from his Men in the Cities series fits perfectly into the apartment of the sharply dressed, well, psycho.
6. Rocky (1976)
The 72 steps in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art are now referred to as the “Rocky’s Steps,” due to Stallone’s iconic climb. The next time you visit The City of Brotherly Love, join the outpouring of social media replications and at the top of the steps, raise your hands in victory. Then embark upon the gallery’s impressive collection, of course.
7. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
As Andy attempts to execute yet another demanding task from her boss, Miranda, Alex Katz’s Harbor #3 makes a cameo. The bold display of pop art is brightly colored, and its simplicity acts as quite the contrast to Andy’s ever-hectic life.
8. When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Meg Ryan and Billy Chrystal argue as they make their way through the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, challenging how museums provide canvases for romance. In this case, I’ll hold and not have what she’s having.
What’s more fitting for a glittery vampire than a glittery work of art? This teen favorite contains a painting by Ashley Longshore, who has spoken to AZ about her poppy, fabulous work. Find her interview here.
10. The Age of Innocence (1993)
The big-screen adaptation of Edith Wharton’s literary classic is full of nineteenth-century paintings. Because what high-society location in New York during the 1800s would be complete without the work of Turner, Stubbs, or Bierstadt? Shown above is a shot that features James Tissot’s Too Early (1873).
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