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Top 10 Art Films to get you through isolation

We asked the Dulwich Picture Gallery team to share their favourite art films and they did not disappoint!

Dulwich Picture Gallery specialises in shining a light on lesser-known artists. Whilst our programme is on pause, we thought we'd extend this to the world of film - and who better to ask for recommendations than the incredible pool of creatives we work with every day? We hope the below list offers some creative alternatives to your Netflix binge...

A scene from Ruben Östlund's The Square


Faces Places


"A really touching film about Agnes Varda and photographer, JR - together they travel around the villages and towns of France photographing the locals and blowing these images up to enormous sizes, to paste on the buildings." 

Claudia Chalmers, Events Co-Ordinator

Available to rent or buy on YouTube.

Death in Venice


"Luchino Visconti’s adaptation of Thomas Mann’s novella is a spellbinding, visual, poignant masterpiece, where perfection is reached at every level." 

Roberta Gori, Gallery Assistant

Available to rent or buy on Youtube.

The Square


"A brilliant, dark satire about the museum world." 

Helen Hillyard, Assistant Curator

Available to rent or buy on YouTube, or to watch on Netflix and Amazon

Girl with a Pearl Earring


"A fantastic insight into seventeenth century Netherlands and the personal life and work of the Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer. Beautifully filmed and acted with Scarlett Johansson in her breakout role." 

David Michel, Head of Events

Available to rent or buy on YouTube, or on Amazon.

F for Fake 


"My favourite film about the art world ever. The texture and attitude of the film cleverly mimic its subject matter - art forgery. F for Fake contains some of the most complex and satisfying editing in film history. Orson Welles was so convinced he’d discovered a new genre of film; 'essay film’, that he was ready to dedicate the rest of his career to it. Alas (perhaps not surprisingly) the 'essay film' did not set fire to the box office." 

Ian Fielding, Assistant Visitor Experience Manager (and Film Director)

Available to watch for free on YouTube and Vimeo.

Love is the Devil


"I picked this film because it gives you a great sense of the debaucherous Soho scene that Francis Bacon was involved with in the 50’s and 60’s, whilst also telling the story of his tragic relationship with his younger lover George Dyer." 

Nina Goodyer, Gallery Assistant

Available on BFI Player.



"I adore this movie. A great story about the reclusive artist Maud Lewis, who suffers from arthritis and was written off by her family but became a major success through her painting. It really alters the way we see our own hurdles in life." 

Emily Sacher, Gallery Assistant

Available to rent or buy on Amazon.

The Science of Sleep


The Science of Sleep definitely takes inspiration from surrealism. I first watched it when I was about 15 and I always thought the way the dream sequences in it were animated was really fun and different. It's from Michel Gondry, the same writer and director as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, so expect weird!" 

Bryony Haffner, Shop Assistant

Available to rent or buy on YouTube or Amazon.

Joan Didion: The Centre Will Not Hold


"I love this Netflix documentary about Joan Didion. It’s a very beautifully paced piece about her intimate and touching career as a writer. A very reflective documentary and the title seems fitting for this odd time!" 

Emily Baker, Gallery Assistant

Available on Netflix.

Every Frame a Rembrandt


Of course we couldn't miss out our own YouTube channel, which features numerous films exploring the stories behind our paintings and exhibitions, as well as creative art tips, and documentaries with painters and musicians. We chose to feature our Every Frame a Rembrandt documentary made in honour of Rembrandt's Light, which features an interview with acclaimed cinematographer Peter Suschitzky, who helped to light the exhibition. 

Other highlights include Orlando Weeks creating an Edward Bawden-inspired print and virtual exhibition tours of Ravilious, Escher and more. Subscribe now at our YouTube channel!

Share your own favourite isolation films with us @DulwichGallery.

Thank you for reading this article – we hope you enjoyed it!

Did you know Dulwich Picture Gallery is an independent charity that does not receive regular government or Arts Council funding? Our closure due to Coronavirus poses a critical financial risk. If you are able to spare a donation to support us at this challenging time, no matter how small, we would greatly appreciate it.

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