There are many reasons we feel drawn to particular artists. Whether through visual narrative, aesthetics, or artists’ personalities, different artists resonate with us for various reasons. These little partialities can be a gateway for other media that speak to us. Certain films can evoke the same feelings we get when beholding our favorite paintings—at ArtRKL, we appreciate drawing connections between artistic disciplines. Whether you’re a film fanatic or simply don’t know what to watch, consider choosing a movie based on the vibes of your favorite artist.
Mary Cassatt, The Child's Bath (1893). Robert A. Waller Fund. Courtesy the Art Institute of Chicago; Lady Bird directed by Greta Gerwig, 2017, image courtesy of Film Grab
If you like Mary Cassatt, watch “Lady Bird”
Mary Cassatt’s art portrays the delicate intricacies between mother and daughter in a tender yet realistic way. Cassatt’s scenes of girlhood and motherhood come together to paint a vivid narrative of love that exists in our day-to-day moments, imbued with a hint of melancholic reality. Similarly, Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird'' tells the story of a mother and daughter navigating their relationship as the daughter enters adulthood and wishes to find her own identity—one the mother isn’t sure she likes.
Neither Cassatt nor Gerwig shies away from depicting the ways motherhood can strip away your identity as you navigate raising a child who’s discovering who they are. If you relate to the profoundly raw experience of the cusp of womanhood and find comfort in the soft colors of Mary Cassatt, “Lady Bird” may be the film for you.
Keith Haring photographed by unknown photographer, 1989 via AnOther Magazine Courtesy of The LGBT Community Center National History Archive; Who Framed Roger Rabbit directed by Robert Zemeckis, 1988, image courtesy of Film Grab
If you like Keith Haring, watch “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”
Keith Haring was never subtle in his critiques of commercialism in his work, often relying on famous characters to help grab the attention of people and share a larger message. “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” directed by Robert Zemeckis, is a biting satire of gentrification and the consequences of corporate development told by a cast of familiar cartoon characters, set as a detective noir film.
Equal parts zany and topical, both Haring and Zemeckis deliver a message that uses the power of familiar characters to capture your attention and deliver biting social commentary. Haring and Zemeckis create a masterful crossover between pop culture, critique, and entertainment in their respective works. Add “Who Framed Roger Rabbit'' to your watch list if you're looking for sharp yet digestible satire.
Vincent van Gogh, Irises, May 1890, via MFAH.org courtesy of The Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation); Moonrise Kingdom directed by Wes Anderson 2012, image courtesy of Film Grab
If you like Vincent Van Gogh, watch “Moonrise Kingdom”
The bright colors and precise line delivery of Wes Anderson’s films mirror the deliberate brush strokes and vibrant auras in Van Gogh’s work that showcase masterful and niche aesthetics. “Moonrise Kingdom” follows two outcasts who wish to escape the world around them and decide to run away together.
The film embraces the tragedies we encounter with beauty and acceptance—reminiscent of Van Gogh’s dedication to channeling his pain into his art. Both Van Gogh and Anderson romanticize the idea of escapism through art, asking viewers: “What if we just left the real world for a while?” Next time you find yourself in need of some escapism, turn on “Moonrise Kingdom.”
If you like Basquiat, watch “Pulp Fiction”
Loud, dynamic, and unexpected describes Pulp Fiction and Basquiat's iconic art. Jean-Michel Basquiat was known for his neo-expressionist style that was sharp, snappy, and unmistakably unique. Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” set the tone for what film could be— Basquiat redefined fine art in a similar manner.
“Pulp Fiction” is a series of interwoven stories centering around two hitmen attempting to retrieve a mysterious briefcase. The film intertwines brash imagery with philosophical proceedings, leaving viewers unsure of how seriously they should take it. Both Tarantino and Basquait rely on dynamic, unconventional storytelling through visuals that aim to keep viewers on their toes. Pulp Fiction matches Basquiat's poppy and brash style in a fast-paced film guaranteed to hold your attention.
Gustav Klimt, “The Kiss,” oil and gold leaf on canvas, 1907–1908. Photo, Belvedere via Wikimedia Commons, Public domain; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind directed by Michel Gondry, 2004, Image courtesy of Film Grab
If you like Gustav Klimt, watch “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”
Romance with an inexplicable layer of melancholy plaguing both Klimt and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” At first glance, the message of “Eternal Sunshine” is the idea that love prevails if you are brave enough to try, but a closer look reveals a more solemn depiction of romance. “Eternal Sunshine” tells the story of two exes who have chosen to have each other erased from their memories, but despite the urge to forget, the two former lovers find themselves falling in love all over again. Klimt’s painting “The Kiss” is often revered as one of the most romantic paintings of all time, but in recent years, scholars have revisited its darker thematic undertones.
Pundits disagree on the nature of the iconic embrace—is the woman content in her lover’s arms, or is she unenthusiastically compliant? Both Klimt and “Eternal Sunshine” director Michael Gondry ride the line between love and illusion, haunting viewers with lingering melancholy. Whether you’re going through a breakup or wanting to find hope in the abyss of romance, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is a must-watch.
Dali's Mustache, Photo by Philippe Halsman courtesy of Wikiart; The Lobster, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, 2015, image courtesy of Film Grab
If you like Salvador Dalí, watch “The Lobster”
There are few films that capture the strange and whimsical nature of Dalí, but “The Lobster” comes incredibly close. “The Lobster,” directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, imagines an alternate reality where those who can’t find love get turned into animals. With nonsensical storytelling and eccentric imagery, the works of Dalí and “The Lobster” urge viewers to not take life for granted as it is. By opening ourselves to the possibility of a different world, we may discover a more profound purpose.
There is no real answer offered as to why people are transformed into animals, similar as how Dalí has no real accepted answer to the interpretations of his art. Sometimes, things simply exist to exist, and you have to learn to be okay with that. Both Dalíand Lanthimos paradoxically create a world where once you strip away reality, you’re able to face the real meaning of what it means to be human. “The Lobster” is escapism in film at its finest, where once you watch, you learn there’s nothing really to escape from at all in life,
Rembrandt, Christ in the Storm, 1633 via Totalhistory.com; Alien directed by Ridley Scott, 1979 courtesy of Film Grab
If you like Rembrandt, watch “Alien”
Dramatic, intense, and a bit unsettling, the works of Rembrandt and “Alien” capture a unique sense of profound storytelling in a deceptively simple shell. “Alien” tells the story of a space mission gone wrong as extraterrestrials take over a ship, with heroine Ellen Ripley fighting to survive. Rembrandt’s dark, moody style feels right at home amongst the aesthetics of “Alien.”
Like “Alien,” Rembrandt’s works imagined women as complex, capable beings who could hold attention on their own without their traditionally depicted allure of nudity or romance. The appeal of both Rembrandt and director Ridley Scott lies in their ability to stir emotion and drama through the use of awe-inspiring visuals. There are few scenes as memorable in the film as the eponymous alien bursting through a stomach. Similarly, few artists have rivaled the iconic status of Rembrandt’s portfolio. “Alien” is a film for when you want to be in awe, and you want to experience a film that, simply put, is good.
Frida Kahlo, Me and My Parrots (1941). ©2019 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F._Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Run Lola Run directed by Tom Tykwer, 1998, Image courtesy of Film Grab
If you like Frida Kahlo, watch “Run Lola Run”
“Run Lola Run,” directed by Tom Tykwer, is an intensely bright, mind-bending film that plays with themes of womanhood, the passage of time, and morality. Frida Kahlo’s work told the narrative of her life in a piecemeal, surrealist way that captures the aesthetic of “Run Lola Run” to a tee. This German experimental film tells the story of a woman tasked with finding a sum of money owed to a mob boss in just 20 minutes—each time she fails, the clock rewinds backward, and she is given a new opportunity to make things right.
This direct disobedience of time and narrative goes hand in hand with Kahlo’s own artistic choices in how she portrayed not only herself, but the world around her. Kahlo and Tykwer center the concept of feminine agency. As Kahlo was bedridden most of her adult life in an unhappy marriage, the titular character, Lola, is forced to relive the same twenty minutes over and over until she succeeds. “Run Lola Run'' feels like an unpredictable fever dream.
Pablo Picasso, 1910, Girl with a Mandolin (Fanny Tellier), oil on canvas, 100.3 × 73.6 cm, Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Shining directed by Stanley Kubrrick, 1980, Image courtesy of Film Grab
If you like Pablo Picasso, watch “The Shining”
The meticulous detail and intense planning that Picasso imbues into his pieces match Stanley Kubrick's intimidating directorial style. “The Shining” is a thriller based on the novel by Stephen King. A family takes on the role of innkeeper for an isolated resort. Over time, the father succumbs to madness. The complexity of Kubrick’s narrative and cinematography captures the fundamental style of Picasso.
Both Kubrick and Picasso lean heavily into the aesthetic and psychological aspects of their work. Picasso’s work may seem random, but intense planning was required to execute his iconic cubist style. Kubrick was famous for his intensely detailed sets and meticulous dedication to getting the perfect shot. Both communicate an intelligent, obsessive element to their work, redefining the limits of how far an artist will go for their craft. “The Shining” is the perfect horror film for Halloween or to analyze the work of Kubrick. Just don’t get lost in the depths of your analysis, or you may find yourself in cahoots with Picasso and Kubrick.
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