There are many movies about artists out there, Bob Kessel recommends these. Some are obscure but all are worth watching. Many of the artists in these movies are included in the Artists on Art series by Bob Kessel. Portraits of famous artists drawn in the style of the artist depicted. Each picture has a quote by that artist. Many will be surprised by the not so well known quotes.

The Horse’s Mouth
(1958) Director: Ronald Neame
Alec Guinness is Gulley Jimson. He is broke, difficult, conniving, uncouth, and a welcher – but an artist. The visions in his head may not really satisfy him when realized, but the quest continues, for the perfect wall. The Beeders leave for six weeks of vacation and return to find a 7000 pound committment and the wall of their living room a national treasure, even though living with a wall mural of feet is not their cup of tea. Then – in a bombed out church scheduled for demolition – THE wall that can become his vision.

La Belle Noiseuse
by Jacques Rivette 1991 run time 236 minutes
French film. the uncut 4 hour version is a must see.
Where most films don’t show the artwork the artist makes, this movie has the camera linger on the artwork as it is created. Although not about a recognizable famous artist, it captures the alchemy of an artist and his model better than any other movie.

Adventures of Picasso
(original title: Picassos äventyr) is a 1978 Swedish film comedy directed by Tage Danielsson, starring Gösta Ekman, as the famous painter. A Monty Pythonesque crazy, laugh out loud slapstick comedy.

Wolf at the Door
Starring: Donald Sutherland, Max von Sydow Director: Henning Carlsen
Donald Sutherland plays an excellent Gaugin. He takes you through his life from deserting his family in Denmark through his time in Paris with all the other artists of his day to his travels in Tahiti. Always kept your attention. Highly recommend movie for it’s content and for the history value.

Edvard Munch
(1976) Starring: Geir Westby, Gro Fraas Director: Peter Watkins
Famously described by Ingmar Bergman as a “work of genius”, Peter Watkins’ multi-faceted masterpiece is more than just a bio-pic of the iconic Norwegian Expressionist painter. Focusing initially on Munch’s formative years in late 19th Century Kristiania (now Oslo), Watkins uses his trademark style to create a vivid picture of the emotional, political and social upheavals that would have such an effect on his art.
The young artist (Geir Westby) has an affair with “Mrs Heiberg” (Gro Fraas), a devastating experience that will haunt him for the rest of his life, and his work is viciously attacked by the critics and public alike. He is forced to leave his home country for Berlin, where, along with the notorious Swedish playwright August Strindberg, he becomes part of the cultural storm that is to sweep Europe.

Lust For Life
1956 Dir Vincente Minnelli
I like this mostly for the over the top comic performances.
Kirk Douglas gives an Oscar-nominated performance in Vincente Minelli’s adaptation of Irving Stone’s torrid life of Vincent van Gogh. It perpetuates the romantic myth of the tortured artist (some of the best are very well-adjusted, you know!) but is an enjoyable, if not entirely accurate, portrait of a great artist.

Van Gogh
(1992) Starring: Jacques Dutronc, Alexandra London Director: Maurice Pialat
Jacques Dutronc is simply extraordinary as Vincent, his acting filled with subtlety. He doesn’t stoop to histrionics or scenery-chewing…he doesn’t need to. Every gesture, every facial expression, every look in his eyes says something about the character. No wonder he won a Cesar for the role. This is neither the Vincent of “Lust for Life” (Kirk Douglas’ tormented soul searching for love and understanding) nor the Vincent of “Vincent and Theo” (Tim Roth’s mad-as-a-hatter egoist). This Vincent has a quiet cup of coffee before he goes to work in the morning and escapes Dr. Gachet’s house to enjoy a solitary lunch in the wheatfields (the latter is one of my favorite moments of the film–simple but lyrical). There’s no sign of the “mad artist” of the van Gogh mythology. The suicide comes as much a surprise in the film as it must have in real life. We don’t see it coming.

Moulin Rouge
(1952) Starring: José Ferrer, Zsa Zsa Gabor Director: John Huston
Nominated for seven Academy Awards (including Best Picture) and winner of two, this visually stunning biography of master artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is a “painting come to life” (Time)! “Flawlessly directed” (The Hollywood Reporter) by John Huston (The African Queen), from a script by Anthony Veiller and Huston, Moulin Rouge is simply “irresistible” (Newsweek)! As a dwarf, Toulouse-Lautrec (Jose Ferrer) believes he’s too ugly to ever fall in love. So he loses himself in painting and cognac. A fixture at Paris’ infamous turn-of-the-century Moulin Rouge nightclub, Lautrec meets a girl from the street who then breaks his heart. Luckily, newfound artistic success, copious amounts of drink and friendship with a new woman keep him alive. Will he be able to mend his broken heart in time to recognize the true love now staring him inthe face?





Bob Kessel has created an art series titled “American Icons” featuring a portrait of Charles Bukowski. Appropriately, Buk is shown drinking a bottle of beer. This picture is available as a limited edition art print. Contact Bob Kessel for pricing and availability.


from: Love is A Mad Dog From Hell
by Charles Bukowski

I don’t know how many bottles of beer
I have consumed while waiting for things
to get better
I dont know how much wine and whisky
and beer
mostly beer
I have consumed after
splits with women-
waiting for the phone to ring
waiting for the sound of footsteps,
and the phone to ring
waiting for the sounds of footsteps,
and the phone never rings
until much later
and the footsteps never arrive
until much later
when my stomach is coming up
out of my mouth
they arrive as fresh as spring flowers:
“what the hell have you done to yourself?
it will be 3 days before you can fuck me!”

the female is durable
she lives seven and one half years longer
than the male, and she drinks very little beer
because she knows its bad for the figure.

while we are going mad
they are out
dancing and laughing
with horney cowboys.

well, there’s beer
sacks and sacks of empty beer bottles
and when you pick one up
the bottle fall through the wet bottom
of the paper sack
spilling gray wet ash
and stale beer,
or the sacks fall over at 4 a.m.
in the morning
making the only sound in your life.

rivers and seas of beer
the radio singing love songs
as the phone remains silent
and the walls stand
straight up and down
and beer is all there is.

STEPHEN KING by Bob Kessel


STEPHEN KING by Bob Kessel

An illustration of Stephen King by Bob Kessel for a New York Times article written by Stephen King after the Red Sox won the World Series.
This picture is available as a limited edition art print. Contact Bob Kessel for pricing and availability.

MUHAMMAD ALI by Bob Kessel


Bob Kessel has created a picture of Muhammad Ali immortalizing the iconic image of Ali standing over Sonny Liston at the end of their famous fight as part of his “American Icons” art series. It is available as a limited edition art prints and originals. Contact Bob Kessel for prices and availability.

Jersey Joe presided over a fight that even today still contains a mystery, a short fight that has become the most written about and talked about of all time. It lasted one minute and 42 seconds only. Ali threw three punches of note, Liston none at all. The first came almost before the bell had finished ringing, a stiff right cross. The second was a clip to Liston’s head, again with the right hand that appeared to stun him. The third, which practically no one, including Liston himself, even saw in real time was a flashing right hadn’t that lifted Liston’s left leg and sent him to the canvas for a long count.

The punch, which Ali was quick to call the anchor punch, has been analyzed endlessly. Seen now with the benefit of slow motion technology. It is exquisitely timed and certainly concussive almost like the blow of a martial artist. Liston shakes and slumps to the floor. Only sonny would ever truly know what effect it had.

The punch had certainly duped the crowd. The columnist jimmy cannon proclaimed from ringside that “it wouldn’t have dented a grape…” the audience became convinced the fight was fixed a view that became popular over the following months. “Boxing wants no more of Liston,” intoned the ring magazine. Ali himself said afterwards: “the punch jarred him. It was a good punch but I didn’t think I hit him so hard he couldn’t get up.”

Ali stood over Liston, screaming at him to stand up and fight. Sonny couldn’t or wouldn’t. Jersey Joe Walcott failed to get Ali to a neutral corner. Transfixed by Ali’s manic behavior, Walcott didn’t realize Liston had been on the floor for a full 17 seconds by the time he finally got to his feet.

Walcott wiped down sonny’s gloves and ordered the fighters to resume. Only when a journalist at ringside alerted him to the fact Liston had been counted out by the timekeeper did Walcott signal the fight was over. For the second time, an ali-vs-liston bout concluded in chaos.

Bob kessel’s American Icons art series also includes Marilyn Monroe, Miles Davis, Charles Bukowski, Marlon Brando, Elvis Presley, John F Kennedy and many more.




“A good picture is equivalent to a good deed.”

– Vincent Van Gogh

Bob Kessel has created an art series titled “VAN GOGH A GO GO” featuring pictures like “SAINTE MARIES” shown above based on reed pen and ink drawings by Vincent Van Gogh. Pictures can be purchased as limited edition, signed and numbered original fine art prints. Contact Bob Kessel for prices and availability.

Also be sure to check the Vincent Van Gogh quote in the Artists on Art series.