By Julia Angela Singson
Being in lockdown for more than a year, the arts and culture scene has changed significantly. This adjustment meant that we don’t get to experience art the way we were used to: physical exhibitions at galleries, trips to museums, etc.
However, this has not stopped us from appreciating art in its new ways and forms. At a time when the world is at a standstill, digital content is crowned king. The accessibility of YouTube and Netflix makes them part of the most highly consumed media platforms of today.
Here are some of our favorite arts and culture Netflix shows and YouTube channels to feed your mind and soul this weekend:
Julian Schnabel is an American painter and filmmaker who gained traction through his “plate paintings”, making use of broken ceramic plates as a medium for his artworks. In this documentary by Pappi Corsicato, the personal life and the works of the artist are examined. Interviews with esteemed colleagues such as Al Pacino, Laurie Anderson, and Bono give us perspective on how Julian Schnabel was every bit the renaissance man of his time.
Cai Guo-Qiang is a Chinese artist who rose to fame for his inventive use of gunpowder to ignite his own drawings, as well as staging explosive outdoor events with fireworks. This documentary by award-winning director Kevin Macdonald explores the marvels in the creation of the 1,650-foot Sky Ladder installation of Cai Guo-Qiang. In the artist’s words, he wanted to “connect the earth to the universe,” and truly, this made his mark in the world of contemporary art.
How many times have you found yourself hours-deep in a series of true crime documentaries while in lockdown? I wasn’t spared from this, and Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art is definitely one that stands apart from the other crime documentaries about murder and abductions. Directed by Barry Avrich and released on Netflix just this February 2021, this documentary is about the biggest and most expensive art fraud recorded in American history set in the urban jungle of New York. It goes to show just how skillful con-artists are at faking works of art all while giving real artists a run for their money.
The date is March 18, 1990, two unsuspecting men dressed as police officers show up at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, dramatically exclaim “This is a robbery,” and successfully steal 500 million dollars worth of art by Manet, Rembrandt, and Vermeer. The four-part mini-series is available on Netflix and it definitely is worth your next batch of microwave popcorn.
Velvet Buzzsaw is a satirical horror-thriller film directed by Dan Gilroy and in itself, isn’t your typical low-lit and darkly color-schemed horror film. It’s vivid, bright, colorful and more importantly, it’s a true story that involves haunted children in paintings. The supernatural forces behind the paintings set revenge on people who let greed get the best of the art they stole. See it for yourself and maybe a painting hung across your living room would appear to breathe.
One of the first and most comprehensive channels dedicated solely to art, The Art Assignment was created by American art curator Sarah Urist Green. There you’ll find quirky and informative topics such as “What did Monet eat in a day?” and “The Definition of Art?”
The renowned British art institution uploads videos at least once a month. The creation of its channel was aimed to “increase the public’s enjoyment and understanding of British art from the 16th century to the present day and of international modern and contemporary art.”. They share videos about art and artists from around the world in various formats such as interviews with artists, exhibition previews, celebrity art fans, live performance art and more.
The National Gallery, London’s channel shares stories behind the world’s greatest paintings and artists in its collection. There you’ll enjoy interviews with leading art experts, live recordings of talks and events hosted by the gallery, and insights into their latest exhibitions.
Little Dot Studios Network’s arts-and-culture-dedicated channel, Perspective goes beyond traditional art. Perspective probes into music, theatre, opera, paintings, and other cultural subjects.
Great Art Explained was created by UK-based curator and gallerist James Payne. His channel’s mission is to “to demystify the art world and discover the stories behind the world’s greatest paintings and sculptures. Each episode will focus on one piece of art and break it down, using clear and concise language free of ‘art-speak’”. His videos are known for its conciseness sticking to only 15 minutes (well, more or less) per video.