As a member of the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture, and Design here at IU, I was struggling after the closing of the museum on campus. The Museum had been closed since mid-2017 for remodeling, but reopened last month (November 7th, 2019)—yay! During the closure, I met my need to discover new and exciting artwork by turning to the collection of arts-related films and TV shows housed right here in Media Services at Wells Library. Media Services’ collection of arts videos expanded significantly upon the permanent closure of the Fine Arts library branch that coincided with the Eskenazi renovation. The collection touches on many different artists and movements from all around the world. With everything from series about ancient and medieval art to features on modern-day creatives, our library is bound to have a title for you to enjoy.
If documentaries are more your speed, you might be interested in one of our recent acquisitions—Kusama: Infinity. This gripping documentary on the life and artwork of Japanese artist Yoyoi Kusama gives you a detailed account of Kusama’s battles against formidable odds in her fight to make her mark on the world. The viewer is invited to reminisce with Kusama and other historians about her upbringing in a strict family, her daring move to New York in the 60s, and her ongoing battle with mental illness that caused her to leave America and move back to Japan. All the while we gain an understanding of how her work was not only a reflection of herself but of the socio-political atmosphere in which she lived. The film also provides a retrospective of her work, from early watercolors and net paintings to her infinity rooms. Your eye is bound to be tickled and intrigued by Kusama’s masterpieces. At age 80, Yayoi Kusama is now the highest-grossing female artist worldwide from a financial standpoint, and her creative spirit continues to inspire millions.
Trying to avoid the outdoors as temperatures drop? How about streaming a title from one of our online services? As an IU student, you have access to our ResLife Cinema online while you’re on campus. Whether you’re snug in your dorm or bored between classes, we have hundreds of titles for you to explore. One title worth watching is director Julie Taymor’s Frida, starring Salma Hayek. This biopic focuses on iconic female artist Frida Kahlo and the life that fueled her work. Beginning just before her traumatic accident that became the subject of many paintings and ending after a solo exhibition of her work in Mexico, the film follows her rise to world-renowned artist as well as her turbulent marriage with fellow-artist Diego Rivera. The film allows the viewer to see the entangled experience of art-making and life for Kahlo while visually exploring her work. Visit ResLife Cinema to see the performance that won Salma Hayek an Oscar nomination in Frida.
Do you prefer to get an overview of an artist, but you’re strapped for screen time? No worries, we have just the series! Housed in Media Services is a variety of seasons of the PBS show Art:21 Art in the 21st Century. Providing the public with insight into the lives of leading creatives in contemporary art, this series focuses on all kinds of disciplines—sculpture, film, fashion, and painting are just a few. Kick off your binge-watching with Seasons One and Two of the show, which highlight artists like Barbra Kruger and Trenton-Doyle Hancock. The show seeks to answer important questions about the contemporary art world. Who are some of today’s most fascinating artists? How do they work, and why? Go beyond museum and gallery representation of these creators with Art:21, and get a glimpse of artists’ personal communities to augment your understanding of their work. These vignettes of each artist’s practice, thematic inspiration for work, and process all provide a wonderful jumping-off point for further research on someone you find interesting. You can also access their website, which provides an extensive list of artists they have filmed and explains more about their project.
For many, art is not just the production of an object but an integral part of life. These films and series go beyond explaining how creators make their work to highlight the intricate connection between living and creating. Come explore your creative side with these titles and many more at Media Services!
Other interesting artist documentaries and films:
Guest student blogger Olivia Kalish is a Junior studying Painting and Art History in the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture, and Design. In her free time, she practices art making, spends time with her family, and listens to podcasts.