As most cities in the US continue to receive less than sunny weather forecasts, I figured it’d be a great time to release our list of Top 10 Netflix art-related documentaries. In the style of Netflix, the guidelines for the list were simple, “If you are a fan of Paint Pens Collective, then these are some documentaries you will also enjoy”.
Beauty is Embarassing (2012)
Directed by: Neil Berkeley
This film follows the personal life and career of Wayne White, a Tennessee native, turned pop culture pioneer. This free-spirited and down-to-earth banjo playing character is also one of the creators behind, the crazed and most beloved TV show, Pee-Wee Playhouse.
The Antics Roadshow (2011)
Directed By: Banksy
Brush up on your history of famous pranks and acts of activism with director, and street art legend, Banksy. This documentary is is the ultimate sampler plate of the most delicious acts of public art antics, punk rock politics, vandalism, and general buffoonery.
Cutie and the Boxer (2013)
Director: Zachary Heinzerling
New York artist duo, Ushio and Noriko Shinohara, are possibly my favorite artist couple. They will make you believe that complimentary opposites can exist; and that all great romantic journey include challenges. Ushio is a boisterous and fiery painter who has been rolling with the punches of being a famed working artist for longer than a lot of our readers have been alive. Noriko, who is a bit more grounded and reserved, may seem over-shadowed by her husband at first glance. However, she grows to be a strong leading female, a large influence on her husband, and just as much a character in her own right.
Director: Jeff Malmberg
What intrigues me most about the low brow art genre are stories of relatively unknown artists with an unwaivering love of their craft; and little thought to how others will perceive their work. This film captures one such case. The story of Mark Hogancamp, a man who spends most of his time meticulously creating a miniature World War II inspired town called Marwencol. After an intense attack that left him brain-damaged, Mark finds himself creating an entire world for himself, within the small town that he has created. His work is eventually discovered and his photographs of his sacred world are introduced to the New York art world.
Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters (2012)
Director: Ben Shapiro
Cutting corners, cutting costs, and saving time, aren’t priorities in Gregory Crewdson’s world. He goes the distance to capture the perfect photograph and an exact mood. Painstaking details are purposely and tactfully placed into every one of his photographs.
Bill Cunningham’s New York (2010)
Director: Richard Press
In the ever-changing fashion world, Bill Cunningham still reigns as a top street style photographer. At 80 years old, he continues to ride around New York with his camera. Whether snapping photographs of strangers in the park, or A-listers at runway shows, he approaches it with the same vigor and joy.
Waste Land (2010)
Directed by: Lucy Walker, Karen Harley, and João Jardim
This documentary follows well-known Brazilian artist, Vik Muniz, to Rio de Janeiro, where he works with the garbage pickers at the largest garbage dump in the world, to create larger than life pieces of art from recycled materials. The film sheds some light on the diginity and dispair of the workers here, as well as the power collaboration and art can have on the spirit.
Vigilante Vigilante: the Battle for Expression (2011)
Director: Max Good
This highly entertaining film documents the everyday battle between the anti-graffiti vigilante, who are the self-proclaimed protectors against all visual noise within their communities. As one side promotes street art, as a form of free speech and expression; the other side dedicates their existences to stopping these “troublemakers”. Whether people are putting up street art, or whether it is getting painted over in large blocks of color, the result is inevitably effecting the landscape of its cities.
The Rock-afire Explosion (2008)
Director: Brett Whitcomb
As a kid, I recall walking into an empty room at Chuck E. Cheese, where larger-than-life animal puppets were blinking their eyes and playing music, seeming on their own. I was scared as hell. I later learned these were second-generation robots birthed from the original Rock-afire animatronic rock band of the 80’s. Through this documentary I further learned there is a cult-following behind these robots, as well as an empty studio that still houses some of the components of these hard-to-find robots of the past. You also get to hear from the original visionary and inventor behind the characters. Overall, I’m still in child-like awe.
Beautiful Losers (2008)
Directors: Aaron Rose, Joshua Leonard
Beautiful Losers follows the lives of a collective group of artists who were early pioneers of, what was later coined, the Mission School art movement. They created their own path, branching away from classic modern art, toward an aesthetic of their own. Their work embodied the 90’s San Francisco youth culture, skateboarding, graffiti, underground music, hip hop, and punk culture.
Written by: Shayna Yasuhara