The American Artist on Film

As discussed in lecture, there is a distinct lens through which the archetype of the artist is perceived: a highly romanticized and often mythologized characterization of creative genius as brilliant, yet embattled, anti-intellectual, and profoundly troubled. Often drawn from the artist’s own biographies, such characterizations have been accused of reducing the artist (as an archetype) to a set of reductive clichés that distort, and often ignore, the complexities of their lives. In class, we looked at two filmic examples, Pollock (2000) and Basquiat (1996); films that tend to image their subjects as damaged geniuses, who were unable to function in society.

To complete this paper, you are required to do a critical and comparative analysis of the films, Pollock and Basquiat, that considers the archetype of the artist.

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This is not a research paper, so I want you to include personal observation, opinion and formal analysis. Any sources should be utilized to reinforce and support your analysis. But the intent is for you to engage in a narrative and formal analysis of the films. You may choose artworks to discuss at your discretion, but it’s not required, as I want you to consider the films as the central visual objects. Be sure to ground your analysis in a precise physical account of the work/s in question. This paper is an opportunity to engage the films critically and to offer a close visual and narrative reading of both the iconography and conceptual intent of the directors. I also want you to pay close attention to the thematic similarities between both films, and to consider why specific narrative choices were made.

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