Need to brush up on your art history before heading down to Dada Bar & Gallery? Mechanics’ Institute has an excellent collection of films about visual art and artists. From biopics to documentaries, check out the DVD Display on the 2nd floor for staff favorites.
Herb & Dorothy - An adorable documentary about a postal worker and a librarian couple who amass a priceless collection of modern art in their small New York City apartment. What Herb and Dorothy do with their collection is just as interesting as how they collected it - I find it a fascinating look into art commerce and philanthropy.
And Mr. Turner - Timothy Spall spent years preparing for the role of J. M. W. Turner. Get an accurate glimpse into Turner's technique and vision that laid the groundwork for impressionism. Turner lived a tumultuous life, even if you're not a fan of the painter, there is plenty of drama in this biopic, nominated for four Academy Awards.
Shakespeare in Love - “one of Gwyneth Paltrow's more memorable roles, I loved the period costumes and sets and seeing Shakespeare's work come to life.”
In the Realms of the Unreal - This documentary explores the life and art of "outsider artist" Henry Darger, a custodian whose remarkable 15,000 page illustrated fantasy manuscript was found in his Chicago apartment after his death. We have a couple of books on Darger, which can be found in the 700.92 section on floor 2B.
Finding Vivian Maier - Another reclusive artist whose work was not discovered until after her death, Vivian Maier worked as a nanny for 40 years, but in her free time secretly created a collection of over 150,000 photographs of mid-twentieth century street life. A book on her work can be found in the photography section on 2B.
Beautiful Losers - 2008 documentary on a group of American artists, designers, musicians, filmmakers. It features some now well recognized artists and filmmakers like Shepard Fairey, Harmony Korine, and Mike Mills, but most excitingly are the sections of the film devoted to Barry McGee and Margaret Kilgallen (RIP), two of my all-time favorite Bay Area artists. Also check out the book we have from Barry McGee's amazing 2012 exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum.
Crumb - Great documentary on famed Bay Area comic book pioneer Robert Crumb. We have a handful of his books for checkout in Graphic Novels on the 2nd floor.
Cutie and the Boxer - This documentary examines the unusual 40-year marriage of Ushio and Noriko Shinohara, two eccentric bohemian artists living in New York.
American Splendor - Largely an adaption of his autobiographical comic series of the same, this comedy/drama stars Paul Giamatti as curmudgeon underground comic book writer Harvey Pekar. We also have several of Pekar books for checkout in the Graphic Novel section on the 2nd floor.
Andrei Rublev - Andrei Tarkovsky never made a bad movie, and this (very long) biographical drama of 15th-century Russian icon painter Andrei Rublev is easily one of his best.
And Akira Kurosawa's Dreams - One of Akira Kurosawa's last films, Dreams is a collection of episodes inspired by some of the directors actual dreams. One of the more memorable episodes is about a young artist that gets trapped inside various pieces of Vincent Van Gogh's art, and stars Martin Scorsese (!!!) as Van Gogh and includes visual effects by George Lucas.