10 Documetaries Perfect for Creative People

If you’re a person who enjoys documentaries or are just an artist looking for a little motivation and inspiration, you’re at the right place. We have selected 10 documentaries that will do just that. Each one tells amazing and inspiring life stories that you will surely remember long after the film is over.

1. SKY LADDER: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang

This 2016 documentary, directed by Kevin Macdonald, follows Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang in his so far most ambitious endeavor – Sky Ladder.
Cai Guo-Qiang was born in 1957. in Quanzhuo, China, and is known for using gunpowder as a medium for his art. In this film he presents his project Sky Ladder – a pyrotechnic ladder that will rise 500 m high into the sky. The film follows the artist’s path of making that dream a reality. He has been trying to accomplish this project for over 20 years, however, something always went wrong. This time he was determined to succeed.

But it’s not just a story about the project, we see Cai Guo-Qiang as an artist, his journey from early childhood to one of the most influential artists of today. You should definitely watch this interesting story full of beautiful visuals and art.


The film is full of interesting scenes and stories, but one of them made an impression. Cai comes to the house of an unknown artist. A man who, after the death of his wife, decided to dedicate himself to ceramics as a hobby. His house is full of small sculptures of dancers and animals. When a journalist asks Cai if there is any particular reason why he likes working with unknown artists, he replies: “Yes, many artists do things that are too commercial. What is missing is some compulsive and sincere emotion that should exist throughout art. Working with them will always remind me of the pleasure I felt and my original purpose in the art. ”

Also interesting is the story of his wife Hong Hong, who tells the story of how Cai was often told that although he is very hardworking, it is not possible for him to surpass Picasso. To which the young Cai replied “Why can’t I surpass Picasso?”

Judge for yourself whether he succeeded 😊

You can follow Cai Guo-Qianga on his Instagram profile: @caistudio

2. Waste land

This 2010 documentary, directed by Lucy Walker, who also earned an Oscar nomination for best documentary, follows the story of Brazilian artist and photographer Vic Muniz.

Vik Muniz started his career as a sculptor, but photography soon took over his career. He is known for his original creations as well as recreations of works by other artists made with unusual elements, such as newspaper clippings, sugar, tomato sauce, chocolate syrup, trash, etc. After creating them, he photographs them. Today, Vik is considered one of the most successful modern artists, and the documentary Waste Land followed his two-year project in which he wanted to bring art closer to people who are unfamiliar with it. As he says in the film: “What I really want to do is change the lives of a group of people with the same materials they use every day.” He decided, with the help of people living and working at the world’s largest open-air landfill Jardim Gramacho in Rio de Janeiro, to create works of art made exclusively from garbage.

Interesting story

One of the more touching moments comes when Vic talks to one of the people who worked on the project, about art. After Vic asks him what he thought about modern art before the project began, Taio (the man involved in the project) replied that he always thought modern art was meaningless, that he didn’t think it was art. When Vic asks him why he didn’t think it was art, is it because he didn’t understand it, Taio replied that he simply never understood it and that he thought it was completely meaningless. Then Vic answers with the counter-question: “But do you think you have to understand it for it to be an art?”, To which Taio replies that he thinks art must communicate at least something, but that after Vic told him the story of Jean-Michel Basquiat, he began to be more fond of his art and better understood his dark style. To which Vic replies, “But if you say you liked him more after you understood him, then maybe we just don’t like things we don’t understand.”

You can watch that whole exchange in this clip:

This story is full of interesting people, life stories and simply humanity, which will make the lasting impression on you. Vik Muniz as an artist and as a man is one of the people you really need to know.

You can follow Vika on his Instagram profile: @vikmuniz

3. Cutie and the Boxer

Painter and sculptor Ushio Shinohara and his wife Noriko are the main stars of this 2013. film directed by Zachary Heinzerling, an Oscar nominee in the Best Documentary category. Ushio is known as a boxer painter, because of the technique he uses when making his paintings. With the help of boxing gloves with paint on it, he literally paints the canvas with punches. The film is a love story about two Japanese artists whose paths crossed 40 years ago. Noriko was 19 when she arrived in New York to pursue her dream of becoming an artist. There she met another artist, then 41-year-old Ushio, and love was born.

Ushio though highly regarded in art circles, never managed to sell his art well so at the beginning of the movie we see how, now both older, they still live the lives of struggling artists trying to make ends meet. Noriko, although also an artist, spent most of her life in the shadow of her more famous husband. She never really got a chance to devote herself fully to her art. Raising their son and being a wife took most of her time, but now we see how she her desire to pursue her art more seriously and find her own place in the art world. Art was always a part of her and her life, but building a career and making a name for herself wasn’t a priority. But, that is now changing.

This charming and honest film about two artists and their lives will surely entertain you.

4. Exit Through the Gift Shop

Banksy is not only a famous street artist, but also a director. In this 2010 film, which also earned an Oscar nomination for best documentary, the story follows a random cameraman Thierry Guetta. Thierry is a Frenchman with an address in Los Angeles. Ever since he first picked up the camera, he couldn’t let it go, and that passion will take him on an incredible journey. Thierry filmed everything. And we mean everything. One day while filming, he captured his cousin in the garage doing small miniature artwork. A cousin then invited him to accompany him to the city where he glued that little miniature art on street corners, walls, pavements. Incredibly, his cousin is the famous street artist called Space Invader. Just like that, Thierry entered the world of street art and continued to record every encounter with many artists, such as Monsieur Andrea, Zeus, Shephard Fairy, Neckface, Swooon and others. However, the meeting with Banksy will change his whole life.

This is a fun and amazing story about a man who went from an ordinary man with a camera to the person you want to know about. This interesting story is one you’ll surely enjoy, but don’t expect Banksy’s identity to be revealed. Although he appears, he still skillfully hides his identity.

You can follow Banksy on his Instagram profile: @banksy

You can follow Thierry on his Instagram profile: @mrbrainwash

5. Kusama: Infinity

The 2018. movie, directed by Heather Lenz, documents the life of the famous Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. From her beginnings on a family farm in Japan, until she moved to New York to pursue her career as an artist – Kusama has been through a lot of hardships. When, at the suggestion of renowned artist Georgia O’Keeffe, she packed her suitcases in the early 1950s and embarked on an American adventure, she had no idea how difficult her journey would be. Faced with sexism, her ideas being stolen and later mental problems, Kusama gained her popularity only in the later stages of her life. The artist we know today from her famous dot installations and paintings, this documentary gives us hope that we should never give up on our dreams and that success can come later in life.

The film begins with a quote from Kusama: “From the point of view of the one who creates, everything is a risk, a leap into the unknown.”
Her life really seems like a big risk, and a leap into the unknown. This story, told by her friends, colleagues and herself, is an inspiration to every artist to believe in their vision. As she says in the film, when her friends asked her why she always paints only dots and grids, she replied, “I never listened to them. I just tried to create my own world.”

The whole world knows this world very well today. Yayoi Kusama is one of the most famous living artists today.

You can follow Yayoi on Instagram: @yayoikusama_

6. Jean-Michel Basquiat – The Radiant Child

In this 2010. film, Tamra Davis paid tribute to her friend, the American painter Jean-Michel Basquiat. The movie is full of never-before-seen footage that Tamra kept in her drawer for 20 years.
The film captures the image of New York, at a time when the city was grappling with debt and crime, and many neighborhoods like the Lower East Side were almost depleted and impoverished. During this period, a new movement of young people began to emerge, creativity flourished, and the culture of American blacks began to enter mainstream culture. Jean-Michel started working as a graffiti artist together with his friend under the pseudonym SAMO. They quickly caught the attention of some newspapers and, after parting ways with a friend, Jean-Michel Basquiat began to develop his path as a solo artist.

This is an ideal film for people who are already fans of Basquiat and want to learn more about him as a person. His childhood friends and the girlfriends he dated retell the life they lived at that time in New York, with clips of never-before-seen Basquiat videos from Tamra’s collection. The film depicts the journey of Jean-Michel, from a teenager who ran away from home and was homeless to one of the most influential artists of his generation.

You can follow Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Instagram profile at @jean_michel_basquiat

7. Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict

Peggy Guggenheim was an icon of the art world. In this 2015. film by director Lisa Immordino Vreeland, according to a biography approved by Peggy herself, we meet a woman who turned her love of art into a lifestyle. Her influence on modern art is great. She was a collector and helped many, now, famous artists at the beginning of their careers, but as she says, she is most proud to have discovered Jackson Pollock. The film is based on never-before-seen audio of Peggy Guggenheim’s last interview with Jacqueline B. Weld, who wrote her biography “Peggy: The Wayward Guggenheim.”

If you don’t know who Peggy is and you are interested in the life of this eccentric woman, who’s love of art has taken her from the daughter of a rich man who died on the Titanic, to a great art connoisseur, gallery owner and collector who befriended some of the greatest artists., this movie is for you.

You can virtually visit the Peggy Guggenheim Museum on Instagram: @guggenheim_venice

8. Finding Vivian Maier

If you like a little mystery, along with art, you will love this 2013 documentary. John Maloof, who directed and wrote this Oscar-nominated documentary, is also the person who is responsible for this story to even exist. John, who was a real estate agent at the time, went to the auction because he wanted to find negatives or old pictures of Chicago for the book he was writing. He bought a box of negatives that he thought might contain what he needed, but after the purchase he realized that box wasn’t what he was looking for. He put it aside in the closet and after a while, when he was cleaning old things, he came back to it. He decided to develop some of the photos and realized he had stumbled upon the treasure. The photos were amazing. Whoever filmed them had an amazing talent. This is where the search for Vivien Maier begins. However, as the story goes, so does the mystery gets bigger. Who was this extremely talented woman and why did she hide her talent all those years? Find the answers in this interesting documentary.

You can view works by Vivien Maier on Instagram: @vivianmaierarchive

9. Ai Weiwei: Never sorry

Ai Weiwei is a Chinese modern art artist, activist, and a director. The 2012 film, directed by Alison Klayman, follows the artist while he is preparing for upcoming exhibitions. We are also introduced to him as a person as he is interacting with his family and friends and to his passion for political activism.

Ai WeiWei, in addition to being a respected artist, is also known for not being afraid to criticize the Chinese government openly and strongly. The artist who designed the “Bird’s Nest” stadium for the 2008 Olympic Games in China also became famous for a series of photographs, made in protest, showing the middle finger to the world. In various locations, recreating images that are common in many tourist destinations, WeiWei symbolically shows them the middle finger.

Ai WeiWeii is motivated by activism, love for his fellow citizens and love for his country. His art reflects that. He wants to point out the problems in society and encourage people to find their voices and stand up to the injustices. His courage is rare, and this film is important to watch. This is a unique view of the life of this famous artist.

You can follow WeiWei on her Instagram profile: @aiww

10. Beyond the visible : Hilma af Klint

The 2019 film, directed by Halina Dyrschke, tells the story of Hilma af Klint, an until recently, unknown artist from Sweden, who will change the history of abstract art. As it turned out the first abstract artist was a woman and that it was Halina herself. Until now, that was thought out to be Kadinsky, however, this is no longer true.
This amazing film follows the story of how this discovery came about, who Hilma af Klint was, and introduces us to her amazing work. She left behind an incredible oeuvre of 1,500 pictures and thousands of printed pages.

If you are a fan of abstract art or just love interesting life stories, this is a must-see movie. An amazing story about a great artist that we are just starting to discover and learn about and whose place in history is still created. If you know about Kadinsky, Klimt, etc. you must know about Hilma as well.

You can find more about Hilma AF Clint on Instagram: @hilmaafklintofficial