One of the beautiful things about the invention of the camera is the preservation of fleeting, real moments on film, which have provided us with a richer understanding of the past 100 years: its movements, its people and their achievements. Fine art has played a vital role in shaping history and documentary film has allowed us to put faces to the names behind some of its most iconic artistic creations.
Our motion picture archive, Bridgeman Footage, is home to clips featuring some of these artists at work in their studios, creating the very masterpieces we’ve loved and studied throughout the 20th century. Allow me to shine a spotlight on some of our favourites…
“Fine art is knowledge made visible.” – Gustave Courbet
One of the few women artists to achieve international prominence in Modernist sculpture, Hepworth is documented in this 1956 film sculpting against the Cornish backdrop that inspired her work.
Photographer and environmentalist Ansel Adams has produced some of the most famous images ever captured of the American wilderness. Here we see him working on location in California, developing pictures and relaxing at home with his piano and family in 1965.
Lucian Freud’s famous studio in his Kensington home is the setting for this lovingly made documentary on the man and his work, by his assistant and friend David Dawson. The film was created just two years before Freud’s death in 2011 and is exclusive to Bridgeman Footage.
As shown in this 1978 profile, Kertesz’s studio existed in the streets of New York. Misunderstood at the time due to his un-orthodox camera angles and style, he influenced street photographer greats such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and is now considered a seminal figure in photojournalism.
Edward Hopper lived and painted in New York City, where he developed his cinematic style and personal vision of modern American life. Here he paints alongside his wife in his studio, where he died on 15 May 1967.
A lover of solitude, painter Georgia O’Keeffe set up home and studio in Abiquiú: a town in the vast dry deserts of New Mexico. This clip follows her as she heads home to work in her studio, taking a look at the tools she uses to paint various elements of her ancient surroundings.
Picasso was undeniably one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century. The Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet and playwright spent most of his adult life creating his masterpieces in France. Here we see him with his ceramics in his studio on the French Riviera.
This 1956 clip presents a display of Calder’s mobiles as well as the first U.S. public showing of his “Circus”, with the artist himself working his various miniature animals, trapezes and circus performers. The clip also features a rare interview with the camera-shy sculptor.
In this profile of sculptor Henry Moore the artist speaks at length about the forces that drove him throughout his life. Set on his sheep farm in England and in his studio, Moore is filmed surrounded by the numerous materials he used in his sculpture.
Cage was an avant-garde composer and a philosopher of aesthetics, whose revolutionary definitions of music influenced a whole generation of artists. Here he performs his famous silent “composition”, 4’33”, in Boston’s Harvard Square and talks to Newsweek arts editor Jack Kroll.
Philip de Laszlo, portrait painter of the famous, glamorous and important, lived and worked in London. Having filmed himself and his fabulous friends and family throughout the 20s and 30s, his personal archive is exclusively represented by Bridgeman Footage.
Watch a montage of all featured artists: Artists on Film
Explore images of artists in their studios from our photography archive: The Secret Lives of Artists