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Artists Using Film, from Dali to Mills

Updated June 16, 2011

Mike Mills, the writer/director of Beginners, started as graphic artists. Many other artists have turned to film to expand and evolve their vision.

Mike Mills as Artist and Filmmaker
The Artist as Film Camera
Andy Warhol: Hollywood as Subject
Andy Warhol: Film as Concept
The Artist Takes on Moving
The Artist Takes on Moving
Mike Mills as Artist and Filmmaker

Mike Mills as Artist and Filmmaker

For a medium described as “moving pictures,” the relationship between film and the visual arts has never been a fluid or direct one. While the theater produced many of film’s early great directors, and literature its storylines, a relatively small percentage of visual artists have made the transition from their studios to Hollywood’s — or, even, just to some form of independent production. Still, the history of film would not be complete without noting the artists — and art movements — who have placed their expressive stamp on cinema. Today, artists like Steve McQueen, Sam Taylor-Wood, and Matthew Barney make compelling cinema that is very much an outgrowth of their visual art. Beginners director Mike Mills is an artist and graphic designer, and his composed approach to visualizing systems and relationships carries over from his print work to his dramatic storytelling.  But just as importantly, film itself has been a subject for artists as their work naturally treats the dominant image machine of the 20th century. Below is a brief look at some of the ways in which visual artists have ventured into, commented upon, and treated as their canvas the world of video and film.