If there’s one thing we should be grateful for in these dark times, it’s that this isn’t happening in a time when we only had three TV channels (or worse, no TV at all). If you’re anything like us, you’ve been spending the last few weeks getting even better acquainted with your Netflix account. And with almost anything you can think of available for you to watch with just a few clicks, it is, all in all, a pretty good time to be stuck at home.
But, if you are like us, you’ll also be missing going to museums and seeing art. THATMuse is here for you in this strange time, to bring you our list of the best shows about art, art documentaries, and art movies on Netflix, so you can get your art fix at home. It may not be quite enough to get us through until the end of all this – but it should last you a few days.
If you’ve been on one of our treasure hunts at the British Museum, you will have learned about the complicated history of the Elgin Marbles. The Elgin Marbles are a collection of sculptures from the Parthenon, and are in the British Museum under somewhat dubious circumstances. They were sold to the museum by Lord Elgin, a Scottish nobleman, diplomat, soldier and politician who many claim didn’t have the right to them in the first place. This movie tells the story of two Athenian lawyers who – understandably – would quite like the marbles back.
While not an art movie per se, be honest: has there ever been a time when we were more in need of Bob Ross’s soothing tones, pretty paintings, and – frankly – iconic hairstyle? I’ll answer for you: no. Bob Ross: Beauty is Everywhere is a limited series from 1991, and is available on Netflix in 14 countries, including the US, the UK, Canada and Australia. So grab a blanket, turn on the TV – and if you want a take a little nap, we won’t tell.
With an 80% score on Rotten Tomatoes and starring Willem Dafoe, the 2018 drama about the final years of Vincent Van Gogh’s life is without a doubt one of the most popular art movies on Netflix. The movie is perhaps not strictly biographical, but it is full of landscapes which will be familiar to fans of Van Gogh’s paintings, and Dafoe is – as always – mesmerising. So settle in, soak it up – and perhaps when all this is over and you can plan that Musée d’Orsay treasure hunt, you’ll know what you’re looking for!
Netflix’s 2019 documentary series, Abstract: The Art of Design shows off the life and work of eight designers, including an architect, a stage designer and even the designer of several iconic Nike shoes. While it’s interesting to learn about the lives and thought processes of various artists, the biggest draw is aesthetic. Unsurprisingly for a show about artists, it’s visually stunning.
Produced by, bizarrely, Leonardo DiCaprio and his father, Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski is a documentary about the life of little-known Polish-American artist Stanislav Szukalski. Based largely on a series of interviews conducted in the 1980s, the documentary paints a fascinating picture of an artist who made up his own language, taught himself sculpture, and once had most of his art destroyed in a Nazi raid.
Secret of the Tomb is the third installment in the Night at the Museum Trilogy. Set in (a fictionalised version of) the British Museum, like the first two movies it stars Ben Stiller as a museum security guard, Larry. It also features an impressive ensemble cast, including Robin Williams, Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan. It’s a great one to watch with kids while the museums are closed (but we won’t judge you if you watch it on your own).
Set in the Lancashire town of Pendlebury in the 1930s, the 2019 drama Mrs Lowry and Son tells the story of renowned artist L.S. Lowry, and his cantankerous mother, Elizabeth, who remarks that she “hasn’t been cheerful since 1898”. Unsurprisingly, it’s one of the bleaker art movies on Netflix – but there are some funny moments, and both Timothy Spall as L.S. Lowry and Vanessa Redgrave as the bedridden and grumpy Mrs Lowry, are excellent.
8) Blown Away
Blown Away is the Canadian glassblowing reality TV show we didn’t know we needed. No, you haven’t succumbed to hallucinations after not leaving the house for so long – it’s a real thing. Think The Great British Bake Off for glassblowers: it’s charming, informative, and surprisingly dramatic.
Jake Gyllenhaal stars in this satirical horror movie set in the pretentious world of the Los Angeles art scene. The plot involves a collection of paintings found in a dead man’s apartment, and the events that follow are dark, supernatural, and at times gory – so stay away if you’re squeamish. Critics have generally found the movie to be a bit silly, but enjoyable if you’re into that kind of thing.
What have you been watching?
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