6.27.2009

Actor Art Review

From Andy Warhol to Jackson Pollock to Jean-Michel Basquiat, there are a lot of great films about artists. Perhaps that’s why so many amazing actors are attracted to taking those roles. Plenty of A-listers would jump at the chance to play a dark and long-suffering complicated character — the general archetype of the artistic personality. It’s no surprise then that so many actors have tried their hand at painting. And most with little success. But judge for yourself:

CHARLES BRONSON
The mustachioed star of films like "The Great Escape" and "The Dirty Dozen" wasn’t a bad painter. His tough guy on screen persona is much softer on canvas. This piece, "Late Red Sky," depicts a scene from his Connecticut vacation home. Grade: B

PIERCE BROSNAN
What is super agent James Bond supposed to do when he retires? Paint apparently, as the former 007 puts together warm portraits with vibrant colors. Grade: A

RICHARD CHAMBERLAIN
With his acting career at a standstill, the star of "Dr. Kildare" and "The Thornbirds" concentrates mostly on painting these days. He even has an a website where you can buy prints of his work, but you probably won’t want to — he’s pretty mediocre. Unless of course you like the art your grandma has hanging, in which case this is probably right up your alley. Grade: D

TONY CURTIS
Though Tony Curtis starred in "Some Like It Hot," his art certainly isn’t. Mostly painting flowers and still life, Curtis’ paintings aren’t offensive, just boring. He has a website where you can check out his work. Grade: C

JOHNNY DEPP
Whenever Johnny Depp is interviewed, it always seems like there’s more going on in his head that he lets on. Perhaps some of that internal dialogue is captured on the canvases he paints, which, like his best roles, are stylish and emotional. Grade: B

PHYLLIS DILLER
God bless her – 91 years old and still going strong. May she live forever… but stop painting soon. Grade: C

BUDDY EBSEN
Just what you’ve always wanted: Art inspired by a television series as painted by the man who starred in it! Sorry kids, we’re not talking about The Hoff’s "Baywatch" collection, but rather the folk art paintings of Buddy Ebsen, who played Jed Clampett for nine seasons on "The Beverly Hillbillies." Here’s the website. Grade: C-

PETER FALK
To most people he’ll always be Columbo, but to us Peter Falk is forever the manager of a female wrestling tag team in the classic 1981 film "All the Marbles." Too bad he draws like an art school student. Go here to see the Falk art. Grade: C

ANTHONY HOPKINS
In addition to being an Oscar-winning actor, the knighted Welshman is an established artist, having shown at galleries all over the world. Thankfully, his paintings tend to be more Hannibal Lecter than “Remains of the Day.” Grade: B+

DENNIS HOPPER
Though he’s mostly known as an actor, Hopper fancies himself an artist — acting, painting and taking photographs. He even did the cover for the Ike and Tina Turner album "River Deep – Mountain High."  And just his like his best performances, his photo realistic paintings are as lifelike as the characters he plays. He’s even got a book of his work: "Dennis Hopper: Paintings, Photographs, Films." Grade: A

SALLY KIRKLAND
A minister in the Church of The Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, Kirkland’s artwork is New Age-y and kind of scary. Which is also the way that church sounds. Grade: D

MARCEL MARCEAU
The world’s most famous mime was a pretty decent painter. Apparently all that energy he saved by not talking was shuttled into his paintings, like this one called "The Third Eye," which is dark and moody. Grade: B+

VIGGO MORTENSEN
Though he took up painting after his passion for acting took hold (but prior to his passion for poetry), Mortensen’s moody abstract canvasses are as solid as his acting chops. Grade: A

MARTIN MULL
You’d likely know the face of this comedic character actor if not his name, though you probably didn’t know he’s also a world-class painter with a BFA and MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. As well, his work is included in many museum collections, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Grade: A

EVE PLUMB
Jan Brady paints still life — mostly fruit and furniture — which she taught herself to do some 20 years ago. The bulk of her work doesn’t appeal to us, but some of the lonely settings she paints are somber and soothing. Check her website for more. Grade: B+

ANTHONY QUINN
Both a sculptor and painter, the Mexican-American actor has won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor twice, for "Viva Zapata!" in 1952 and "Lust for Life" in 1956. But he’s a great artist too, as you can see below by his self-portrait. Grade: A

JANE SEYMOUR
How apropos that the star of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman makes paintings that look like they should be hanging in a doctor’s office. Her technical ability is fine but her subjects are bland and broad. Grade: B-

RED SKELTON
If he hadn’t started out his career as a clown, Skelton’s penchant for painting them would be downright creepy, but considering his works have sold for tens of thousands of dollars, those red-nosed portraits are obviously resonating with his audience. Grade: C

SYLVESTER STALLONE
This piece from Sly Stallone, titled, "Philadelphia Skyline," was painted during the filming of "Rocky V" and could be yours for the low, low price of just $18,800. Grade: C+

BILLY DEE WILLIAMS
While he was struggling to make a living as an artist after graduating from the National Academy of Fine Art and Design in New York, Williams turned to acting to make money for art supplies. His work can be seen in the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian Institution, but most of it looks like something you’d see airbrushed on the side of a 1970s van conversion. Grade: C

JONATHAN WINTERS
If you ask us, the funnyman’s art is about as funny as he is – and we’re not sure that’s a compliment. Mostly his work reminds us of something you’d find in a surreal coloring book. Check out his website for more info. Grade: C-

RELATED: Rock Star Art Review | Killer Art: A Serial Killer Art Review

.........................................................................................................................................

9 comments:

  1. Mannythedawg says:

    I didn’t know that Pierce Brosnan was so talented!

  2. D says:

    Who the fuck are you to critique other peoples’ art? You’re an asshole.

  3. tigerstripes says:

    I’m with D — Not just on who are you to critique other people’s art, but also on who the hell *are* you? Admit it, you’ve got no background in art at all, you’re just giving grades based on how much you like the individual.
    I think Phyllis Diller’s piece is the best of the bunch — Matisse-like.

  4. Adam says:

    How could you give Bronson’s piece a ‘B’ and then that bad pop-art eyesore by Brosnan an ‘A’? That Castro looks like something I would’ve painted in first-year, and believe me, I’m bad at painting!

  5. Stella says:

    RIP Tony Curtis good actor, really bad painter. Most “stars” get art shows because of their names. Goes to show you what a sham most of the art world is anyway. You don’t need to be an art critique to review art. What’s laughable are the so-called professional critics, and I’ve been to a lot of art museums. Same for some of the so-called classics in Literature, very bad.

  6. Stella says:

    that critic not critique, so sue me already

  7. Stone Cladding Guy says:

    Looks like this post hit a sore point with a few people? I just found it interesting to see that actors can put their creative talent into other things as well.

  8. cavity wall insulation says:

    Dennis Hopper’s is amazing! it looks lieka photo!

  9. under floor insulation says:

    I like the photo with the painting over the top by Martin Mull. Had no idea he paints?