Ten Top Best Art Documentaries About Painting

March 22, 2022

For art lovers, the following list of documentaries about painting is windows into the most varied forms of visual art. From the streets of Sao Paulo to the cold and silent halls of the most prestigious European museums, the following non-fiction films portray artists who found in painting a way to live and to express the most intrinsic dilemmas of the human being.

Why watch art documentaries?

Historically, art is not only a therapeutic activity for the author of a work of art, but also for those who admire it. Knowing how to appreciate art is an undervalued pleasure, but, fortunately, watching online documentaries about art and painting can help us enjoy art in ways we never imagined.

What are the best art and painting documentaries to watch online?

From the mysterious Bansky, the famous Picasso, and even the iconic Edward Munch (the author of the horrific "The Scream"), the following top docs about painting ad art make up a must-see list of artists to get to know in order to begin to appreciate pictorial art in its fullness.


Munch In Hell

Self portrait of Edward Munch

We all remember the renowned painter Eduard Munch for his iconic painting "The Scream".

But no one knows how much controversy Munch had in his native Norway, where he did not enjoy prestige until long after his death. This short documentary film tells us the untold side of this incredible artist.


Exit through the gift shop

A hidden man among Bansky paintings

Ever since he filmed his cousin while sticking around the city the figures of the video game “Space Invaders”, French video enthusiast Thierry Guetta fell in love with Street Art. 

In what is suspected to be a false documentary directed by the famous street artist “Bansky”, in “Exit through the gift shop” we accompany Guetta while he enters the rebellious and countercultural world of Street Art, a form of expression that is born from graffiti and created a whole new urban imagery at the beginning of the 21st century. 

In this Oscar-nominated documentary, we will have the opportunity to meet several of street artists, such as “Monsieur André”, known by his spray-painted figures, “Zeus”, who paints the shadows projected by the objects of the street and “Bansky” himself, creator of several icons painted on walls around the world.


Cursed Days

A black and white painting about the Euromaidan in Ukraine

Made in 2016, two years after a revolution popularly called "The Maidan", where numerous demonstrations in Kyiv overthrew the pro-Russia president Víktor Yanukóvich, this documentary takes us into the small and semi-dark studio of a painter from Kiev, Ukraine.

Through his paintings, we discover the history of a country in search of its identity in the midst of great powers trying to subjugate it. The documentary reveals how the strokes of an artist can speak of the construction of something bigger, such as society or a country. 

The Mystery Picasso


Picasso and a film crew while filming The Mystery Picasso by Clouzot

Henri-Georges Clouzot constructs an ingenious cinematographic device to unveil Pablo Picasso´s creative process. In this film, the great exponent of the cubist painting appears in a kind of dark and mysterious studio where he is filmed while painting several works.

The Mystery Picasso way of showing the painter’s work allows us to observe the magical transformation of the first strokes and the occasional discards, all occurring on the geography of the canvas until reaching its final density.

The documentary is a must-see for painting enthusiasts and it is a film of great value for those who want to enrich their creative process in the arts.

Stand By Painter


A colorful painting of a museum in the film The standby painter

Full of suspense and outlined with a unique comedic layer, this ingenious film by directors Amir Yatziv and Guy Slabbinck tells the story of a painter with an unusual mission. 

Through special permission granted by the National Museum of Posnán, Poland, this painter will have to make a faithful copy of the painting "Beach in Pourville" by the French painter Claude Monet. 

But the curious thing is that, among the silent corridors and spaces of the museum, its labyrinth of halls and corridors, and the strokes of our protagonist, hides a secret that we will only be able to know at the end of the documentary.

Armando Reverón


Armando Reverón and Margor Benacerraf in the making of the short film Reveron

The Venezuelan filmmaker with works recognized at the Cannes Film Festival, Margot Benacerraf, enters the intimacy of the renowned “Master of Tropical Light”, Armando Reverón. 

This short documentary shows the Venezuelan painter while he makes a self-portrait on a canvas inside the wooden castle that he built as part of his artistic exile among the palm trees and mountains of Venezuela´s north coast. 

The corners of his rustic dwelling are full of works of art, such as his celebrated rag dolls, images that alternate with those of his several impressionist paintings, which consist mainly of female nudes and landscapes. 

The film is a valuable document of a painter little known in the region and whose work has gained recognition in recent times, especially since in 2007, when many of his works were presented at the MOMA in New York.

F for Fake


Copy Painter Elmyr de Hory in his studio


In 1946, after selling a picture he painted with pen and ink as if it were a Picasso, the Hungarian painter Elmyr de Hory realized that he had a prodigious ability to make copies and something better: that he could make a living on them. 

In F for Fake, prolific filmmaker Orson Welles flaunts his filmmaking skills to make in part a portrait of one of the greatest imposters in the history of art and, at the same time, an essay on the concept of authorship and appreciation of the work of art. 

The film about de Hory, who during his lifetime managed to sell hundreds of copies of famous paintings to dozens of museums and galleries in the world, is the last major feature film finished by Welles, who also acts as a sort of illusionist in some parts of the film.

Shanzhai Screens


A mobile phone on a stand video recording a naturalistic drawing


This short documentary film introduces us to a little-known underworld of Shanzhai, Hong Kong.


In just 23 minutes, we enter the world of copyist painters, a group of young talented painters whose job is to reproduce naturalistic drawings and paintings that sell well on the streets of the city.

In addition, it all ties in with the youthful world of our protagonists and their interactions with cell phones and chance encounters during one of those enigmatic Asian nights.

The Cave of Forgotten Dreams

People taking pictures at the drawings inside the Chauvet cave

In this film, the award-winning filmmaker Werner Herzog becomes a privileged art spectator by having exclusive access to the interior of the Chauvet cave, the last reservoir of cave paintings discovered by the human kind. 

Filmed with stereoscopic technology, the pictorial works that rested for over 30,000 years on the rough walls of the cavern are put within the reach of the viewer of our time through a journey that transcends time and space. 

In The Cave of Forgotten Dreams Herzog’s voice accompanies our incursion into the cave, where we will see beautiful herds of rhinoceroses and tigers, multiparous bison and curious hybrid figures made by anonymous painters of antiquity. 

The film presents a unique opportunity to know the reasons, techniques, and inspirations of these artists through the lucid meditations of the director as well as the interviews with various artists and specialists linked to the analysis of the cave.

Instigated City


A street artist making a graffity in Sao Paulo

Welcome to Sao Paulo, the largest city in South America. With its countless streets, highways, and tunnels, the city lends itself as an ideal canvas for street artists who want to add color to the gray architecture of Brazil's main city.

In this documentary, three street artists show their creations on the walls and surfaces of Sao Paulo's urban landscape. Graffiti, murals, eclectic strokes, performance.

All these art forms are combined in a great expression that has only one language: the language of the streets and their dynamic movement.

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