Coll., Framing The Artists: Artists & Art in Film & Television Volume 1, Temporary Services, 2005
Visual artists who are alive and working are given very little voice in mainstream media culture. While the American public takes great interest in the exploits of actors, popular musicians, and a few select writers, visual artists are almost never interviewed, discussed, or even acknowledged. Artists are generally ignored on television and in films until they are dead, their work causes a controversy, or they have created something that is easily parodied.
The American public rarely has an opportunity to watch a visual artist speak articu- lately and persuasively on prime time television – about something they have created, or about their reaction to an event that might affect their community. Film and television actors, however, are given the opportunity to be authorities on everything.
Fictional representations of art and biographical films about dead artists are common in mainstream media, despite the lack of concern with living visual artists and their proj- ects. So what do these representations reveal to us about artists and their work?
Many depictions center on artists’ unusual behavior, love affairs, or self-destruction through drugs and alcohol. Jokes about not being able to understand modern art are end- less. Very few biographies of actual or fictive artists seriously attempt to consider the artist’s creative process in a nuanced way.
Framing The Artists is an overview of many examples of these characterizations. The reviews that follow are but a few examples of portrayals of artists and their work in film and television. We have watched hundreds of hours of video and concede that our research has only just begun.