What is the best art documentary? The best art documentary movies offer strong stories, memorable characters, and emotional payoffs that stick with you long after they're over. They focus on a variety of subjects and approach the making of art in both subtle and more overt manners. They come from big studios and independent distributors. So, what is the best art doc? What art docs should you watch first?
The best art documentary movies, like Exit Through the Gift Shop, Cutie and the Boxer, and Burden, have even found themselves nominated for, or winning, awards. In every way, these are some of the most important movies of our time. A lot of these art docus are available on streaming services like Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.
This list includes documentary films about art. Vote up the best art documentary films to make sure they make it to the top of the list. Be sure to check back for new art docs as they are added to the list upon release.
Directed by: BanksyExit Through the Gift Shop: A Banksy Film is a 2010 British documentary film directed by street artist Banksy. It tells the story of Thierry Guetta, a French immigrant in Los Angeles, and his... more
Directed by: Zachary HeinzerlingCutie and the Boxer is a 2013 American documentary film directed by Zachary Heinzerling. Noriko seeks an identity of her own after 40 years of marriage to famous boxing artist, Ushio Shinohara.... more
Directed by: Richard Dewey, Timothy MarrinanBurden is a 2016 American art documentary film directed by Richard Dewey and Timothy Marrinan. A probing portrait of Chris Burden, an artist who took creative expression to the limits and risked his... more
Directed by: Justin S. MonroeHoly Frit is a 2021 American art documentary film directed by Justin S. Monroe. In this three-year race against time, Tim Carey, a talented, yet unknown L.A. artist, bluffs his way into winning a... more
The Cool School2008
Directed by: Morgan NevilleThe Cool School is a 2008 American documentary film directed by Morgan Neville. How LA Learned to Love Modern Art. A lesson in how a few renegade artists built an art scene from scratch.... more
Directed by: James MollObey Giant is a 2017 American documentary film directed by James Moll. The film follows artist Shepard Fairey's rise from his roots in punk rock and skateboarding, to his role as one of the most... more
Directed by: Benjamin ReeThe Painter and the Thief is a 2020 Norwegian documentary directed by Benjamin Ree. The documentary follows an artist who gets to know the thief that stole her painting and they become close after a... more
Directed by: Henry Chalfant, Tony SilverStyle Wars is an American 1983 documentary film directed by Tony Silver. A documentary that exposes the rich growing subculture of hip-hop that was developing in New York City in the late '70s and... more
Directed by: Susan SternBad Attitude: The Art of Spain Rodriguez is a 2021 American art documentary film directed by Susan Stern. Working-class Latino hood, crossed with crazy artist, crossed with left-wing radical, so the... more
Directed by: Sam PollardBlack Art: In the Absence of Light is an 2021 American documentary film directed by Sam Pollard. The film follows various Black American artists and their contributions to the art world.... more
Directed by: Matthew Akers, Jeffrey DupreMarina Abramovic: The Artist is Present is a 2012 American biographical documentary film directed by Matthew Akers and Jeff Dupre. Performance artist Marina Abramovic prepares for a major... more
Directed by: Jeff Malmberg"Marwencol is a fantasy world created by Mark Hogancamp. This website is dedicated to capturing the beauty of Mark's secret world. After being beaten into a brain-damaging coma by five men outside a... more
Directed by: Neil BerkeleyBeauty Is Embarrassing is a 2012 documentary film written by Chris Bradley and Kevin Klauber and directed by Neil Berkeley.... more
Eames: The Architect and the Painter2011
Directed by: Bill Jersey, Jason CohnEames: The Architect and the Painter is a 2011 documentary film about American designers Charles and Ray Eames and the Eames Office. It was produced and written by Jason Cohn, and coproduced by Bill... more
Kenny Scharf: When Worlds Collide2021
Directed by: Max Basch, Malia ScharfKenny Scharf: When Worlds Collide is a 2021 American art documentary film directed by Max Basch and Malia Scharf. Kenny Scharf's artworks have spanned painting, sculpture, fashion, video, performance... more
Directed by: Henri-Georges ClouzotThe Mystery of Picasso is a 1956 French documentary film about the painter Pablo Picasso, directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, and showing Picasso in the act of creating paintings for the camera. Most... more
Directed by: Chris McKimWojnarowicz is a 2021 American documentary film directed by Chris McKim. A controversial artist blazes a trail for other gay image makers in New York 's 1980s scene, only to perish at the end of the... more
Directed by: Tamra Davis"In his short career, Jean-Michel Basquiat was a phenomenon. He became notorious for his graffiti art under the moniker Samo in the late 1970s on the Lower East Side scene, sold his first painting to... more
Directed by: Nathaniel KahnMy Architect: A Son's Journey is a 2003 documentary film about the American architect Louis Kahn, by his son Nathaniel Kahn, detailing the architect's extraordinary career and his familial legacy... more
Directed by: Terry ZwigoffCrumb is a 1994 documentary film about the noted underground cartoonist Robert Crumb and his family. Directed by Terry Zwigoff and produced by Lynn O'Donnell, it won widespread acclaim. It was... more
Art of Conflict2012
Directed by: Valeri VaughnArt of Conflict is a documentary film directed by Valeri Vaughn....
Directed by: Amir Bar-LevMy Kid Could Paint That is a 2007 documentary film by director Amir Bar-Lev. The movie follows the early artistic career of Marla Olmstead, a young girl from Binghamton, New York who gains fame first... more
Directed by: Lucy Walker, Karen Harley, João JardimWaste Land is a feature documentary film that premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and went on to be nominated for the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, as... more
Directed by: Jill MagidThe Proposal is a 2018 American documentary film directed by Jill Magid. The Proposal is the story of an artist that fights to make the archives of Mexico's most famous architect available to the... more
Directed by: Richard PressBill Cunningham New York is a 2010 American documentary film directed by Richard Press. Bill Cunningham, one of the mainstays of the New York Times, has been a contributor to the renowned newspaper... more