Updated: Mar 18
Hi folks, I hope you're all well. I didn't do an 'Isolation Entertainment' piece last week as I assumed everyone would be in a chocolate-induced coma. And this week I felt inspired to do something a little different. I wanted to share some of my favourite art-related books, shows and films with you :) I try to select items that I have either read or watched myself, but whilst writing this post I discovered a whole host of material out there that I have now added to my own 'Must Read/Must Watch' list! Please feel free to get in touch with any recommendations you too may have, or comment below for others to see.
In the Full Light of the Sun - Clare Clark
One of my favourite writers of all time (go check out Savage Lands and The Great Stink for further reading), this story follows the fortunes of three Berliners caught up in a devastating scandal of 1930s' Germany. It tells the story of Emmeline, a wayward, young art student; Julius, an anxious, middle-aged art expert; and a mysterious art dealer named Rachmann who are at the heart of Weimar Berlin at its hedonistic, politically turbulent apogee and are whipped up into excitement over the surprising discovery of thirty-two previously unknown paintings by Vincent van Gogh.
Invisible River - Helena McEwen
When Evie and her father say good-bye at the train station, they are both on their own for the first time since her mother's death. But Evie is not lonely for long. At art school in London, she is quickly caught up in colours and critiques, gallery visits and sketching expeditions. But when her father arrives in the city, sour with alcohol and slumped on the doorstep of her new home, Evie must determine what she owes her past, and how it will shape the life, and the art, she's trying to create.
The Art of Love - Elizabeth Edmondson
1930's Bloomsbury: young artist Polly Smith is struggling to make a living when her rich friend, Oliver, invites her to stay with his father, the disgraced Lord Fraddon, at his extraordinary house in the South of France. Polly is happy to escape from wintery grey skies as well as from her staid fiancé, and on the Riviera finds herself mingling with a glamorous circle of artists, aristocrats, millionaires and miscreants, none of whom are quite what they seem. As secrets, past and present, are revealed, her own future begins to take on a new and fascinating shape.
Made By Women Zines
Laura Moseley's fantastic series of affordable and accessible zines champion women from all walks of art history. Each issue is illustrated and designed by contemporary women artists, and you learn about the artist's life and work in a way that doesn't require any previous art historical knowledge. Included in each issue is a short biography, their most famous works explained, a guide to finding their work on display, and a little on their contemporaries and the context in which they were creating. Available to buy as a set or individually.
Eiderdown Books is a new publisher releasing books about female artists written by leading female writers, art historians and cultural commentators. The series reveals an alternative history of art, telling the story of important female artists whose art might otherwise be overlooked, overshadowed or forgotten. Working across a range of disciplines and artistic styles in the first half of the twentieth century, all of the women included in this series were modern. The little hardbacked books are artworks in themselves - beautifully produced with full colour pictures, and just the right size for slipping in your bag (when one once again has need to slip things in bags and go places). Available to buy as a set or individually.
FILMS & TV
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. Each of the film's 65,000 frames is an oil painting on canvas, created using the same techniques as Van Gogh by a team of 125 artists drawn from around the globe.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Set in France in the late 18th century, the film tells the story of a forbidden affair between an aristocrat and a painter commissioned to paint her portrait. Marianne, a painter, is commissioned to create the wedding portrait of Héloïse, a young woman who has just left the convent. Héloïse is a reluctant bride to be and Marianne must paint her without her knowing. She observes her by day, to paint her secretly.
[French with subtitles]
Available on Curzon Home Cinema
In the late 1950s and early '60s, artist Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz) achieves unbelievable fame and success with portraits of saucer-eyed waifs. However, no one realizes that his wife, Margaret (Amy Adams), is the real painter behind the brush. Although Margaret is horrified to learn that Walter is passing off her work as his own, she is too meek to protest too loudly. It isn't until the Keanes' marriage comes to an end and a lawsuit follows that the truth finally comes to light.
Based on the true story of the life of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, this film was brought to life under the guiding hand of producer/star Salma Hayek. Hayek ages some 30 years onscreen as she charts Frida Kahlo's life from feisty schoolgirl to Diego Rivera protégée to world-renowned artist in her own right.
Saimdang: Memoir of Color
An art history lecturer, unfairly disgraced by her superior for refusing to certify a suspicious painting, endeavors to set the record straight by exploring the mystery of a 16th-century artist using a diary that may lead her to the genuine painting. A truly beautiful series based on the life and work of Korea's most talented female artist.
[Korean with subtitles]
Series available on Netflix
Secrets of the Museum
Unique arts series venturing behind the scenes at the world famous museum of art, design and performance, the V&A. Can't recommend this enough.
Available on BBC iPlayer
Abstract: The Art of Design
A Netflix original documentary series highlighting artists in the field of design. A look beyond blueprints and computers into the art and science of design, showcasing great designers from every discipline whose work shapes our world.
Available on Netflix
You may not be able to visit the eagerly, long-awaited, and quite frankly, long-overdue monographic of the great Baroque painter's work in person (though we are told it has been postponed, not cancelled), but there are a few ways of conjuring up the magic from the comfort of your armchair.
The Passion of Artemisia - Susan Vreeland
From extraordinary highs - patronage by the Medicis, friendship with Galileo and, most importantly of all, beautiful and outstandingly original paintings - to rape by her father's colleague, torture by the Inquisition, life-long struggles for acceptance by the artistic Establishment, and betrayal by the men she loved, Artemisia was a bold and brilliant woman who lived as she wanted, and paid a high price. This novelisation of the artist's life is still one of best in my opinion.
Artemisia's Self Portrait as St. Catherine - National Gallery
This film series goes behind the scenes in the National Gallery's Conservation Department to learn about the restoration of their most talked about acquisition in recent years.
Artemisia Catalogue - National Gallery
Get ahead with your reading while waiting for the exhibition to open. This beautiful book includes an essay on her life and career; a discussion of her personal and artistic relationship with her father; a summary of critical writings and an overview of the wide range of approaches to Artemisia’s work since her rediscovery by feminist art historians more than 50 years ago; a more personal insight into Artemisia through her letters; a discussion of the artist’s self-representation in her work; and an essay dedicated to her painting technique. Available on the gallery's website.
Bow Down Podcast
Hosted by Jennifer Higgie, editor-at-large at Frieze, Bow Down is all about giving recognition to female artists. Turner Prize shortlisted artist Helen Cammock selects Gentileschi for her episode, and presents some fascinating insights into what makes her such a force in art history.
HAN VAN MEEGEREN
Henricus Antonius "Han" van Meegeren was a Dutch painter and portraitist, considered to be one of the most ingenious art forgers of the 20th century. Despite his life of crime, van Meegeren became a national hero after World War II when it was revealed that he had sold a forged painting to Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.
I was Vermeer - Frank Wynne
In 1945, a small-time Dutch art dealer was arrested for selling a forgery of a priceless national treasure - a painting by Vermeer - to Hitler's right-hand man. The charge was treason, the only possible sentence death. And yet Han van Meegeren languished in his dank prison cell, incapable of uttering the words that would set him free: 'I am a forger.' This riveting account of greed, hubris, excess, treason and fine art is the story of a failed artist and the greatest forger of all time, who executed a swindle which earned him the equivalent of fifty million dollars and the acclaim of the very critics who had mocked him.
Van Meegeren: The Forger Who Fooled the Nazis
The wonderful Andrew Graham-Dixon follows a trail of evidence across Europe, piecing together how van Meegeren fooled the art establishment - and even swindled Hermann Göring, selling him what was then one of the most expensive paintings in the world. Looking at this tale of intrigue and double-dealing against the backdrop of Europe’s darkest hour, Graham-Dixon tries to uncover the motives of the master forger. Was he a Dutch folk hero, outwitting the Nazi occupiers? A cynical opportunist? Or even ruthless collaborator? As Andrew Graham-Dixon discovers, this is a tale about much more than simply art forgery: a twisted, timely morality tale about the blurred lines between truth and fiction that poses uncomfortable questions about deception - and collusion. About what happens when we want to believe something a little too much, even when the evidence of fakery is before our eyes.
Available on BBC iPlayer
Van Meegeren's Fake Vermeers
This video on the Van Meegeren affair by Hans Wessles (produced by the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam) includes interviews, period news clips and even clips of Van Meegeren during his trial.
[Dutch with subtitles]
I hope you find something arty in there that takes your fancy! I'll be back with more - I have a HUGE list of content to gobble up!