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on January 20, 2001
The Abstract Expressionists have been cannonized and mythologized to such an extent by popular culture, that the reality of the most important American Art Movement is difficult to experience from the recent books and treatises on the subject. Painters Painting, itself an important art work by film-maker Emile de Antonio, propels us back into that existentialist time in such a complete and satisfying way, that we finish feeling like we just had dinner ourselves with all the suspects of the time at the Cedar Tavern . We discover even the notorious critic Hilton Kramer has a face. From deKooning to Warhol, the musings of the artists include Frankenthaler, Hoffman, Motherwell, Barnett Newman (my personal favorite in this film: "I believe that art theory is to me as an artist what ornithology must be for the birds"), Johns, Rauschenberg, Noland, Olitsky, Pavia, Poons, and Frank Stella. Interviews include the controversial Clement Greenberg at his best. As you can tell from the artist list, the film begins with Abstract Expressionism, winds its way through Hard-Edge and Color Field painting, before it finishes with the Grande Dame of the New York Art Scene of the 60's, Andy Warhol. This is a documentary not to be missed.
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on May 26, 2009
This is an important document! And, it is finally available on DVD. Many of the artists that speak for themselves are now dead, so it gives us a chance see them in their studios again. And, it shows the Abstract Expressionists, Pop artists as well as the abstract artists of the 60's such as Stella, Noland and Poons.
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on August 2, 2005
I cannot believe that this documentary is so hard to find. I never thought I would be able to find a copy in my lifetime. One appeared about a month ago at a reasonable price and I cannot believe my luck in picking up a copy. Remarkable 116 minute documentary by Emile de Antonio. The artists that appear in this film are very relaxed and forthcoming. There is no dumbing down here but it is not esoteric either. Unique product. My copy is well worn so I will have to copy it to my computer and make a DVD or VCD copy because eventually all VHS degrades further until it dies. This is required viewing for anyone who is crazy enough to have painting on his mind every day of his life like I do.
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on February 12, 2011
Emile de Antonio's documentary of the New York art scene from 1940-1970 is a masterpiece in itself, equal to the works of art put on canvas by the artists interviewed. It is a time capsule, captured on film, of a bygone era. The effects of Jackson Pollock's work and the aftermath of the 1960's factory scene and it's effects on the world and culture of American art are discussed. Legends of the cubist/neo-dada/pop art movements like Andy Warhol, Willem de Kooning, Kenneth Noland, Robert Rauschenberg, Helen Frankenthaler, Jasper Johns, and Frank Stella are interviewed among many others and their art analyzed with great attention to preserving their individual flavors and not allowing the editing process to dilute their unique contributions and bleed them together. You really get a sense of what makes each individual artist tick and what inspires them to create what would later become near-priceless works of art in just under a half-century.

To be honest, I didn't even know the film existed until a year or so ago and was delighted to find it on DVD here at Amazon. I ordered it and watched and was blown away. It is much different hearing the artists talk about their own work on film as opposed to reading about them. You get a more intimate portrait of the artists themselves and it is a DVD I will treasure forever. As a bonus treat, there is a very interesting PBS interview included on the DVD of Emile de Antonio filmed shortly before his death in 1989 included on the bonus section of the DVD where he discusses what went into the creation of the documentary and about his relationships with the various artists interviewed. Nearly worth the cost of the DVD by itself.

Overall this is a must-buy DVD, not just for the artist or aspiring painter, but for anyone interested in the beauty of paint and canvas in general and of the New York art scene in particular.
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on March 16, 2005
This film/video is rich with ideas, thoughts, philosophies, humour and it gives a wonderful glimpse into this period in American painting.

It includes Interviews with Abstract Expressionists De Kooning, Frankenthaler, Newman and more, Pop artist Andy Warhol, Post Abstract Expressionists Rauschenberg and Johns as well as with some of the color field painters and some critics and patrons. Each offers valuable insight into the creative thinking process. The interviews are broken up and collaged together. It's not a formal documentary, it takes a conversational tone.
Critic Clement Greenberg and Gallery owner Leo Castelli are also among those interviewed.

I never tire of this film, it always stimulates new thoughts and revelations about the artistic process and about this period.
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on January 8, 1999
You smile when you watch these artist attempt to affix words to their work. It's a painful task, but De Antonio's conversational style turns an interview with even the most laconic of artists into an entertaining and instructive ride. (deKooning, 'Painters aren't so clever').
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on October 23, 2011
This is a gem! It's amazing to be able to hear these artists (de Kooning, Motherwell, Hans Hoffman) talking about their art. This video should be required viewing for art history classes.
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on September 29, 2010
got this on a recommendation from a friend. Its a mixed bag really but there are some stand out moments from Frank Stella and Andy Warhol that make listening to the collectors and gallerists big them selves up bearable. I enjoyed watching the old guys talk about their work with a cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other. Good stuff
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on July 31, 2012
In the amazingly done documentary, we get to be party to conversation that gives insight into the way these artists' minds work and how they present their art. The Color Field movement was the foundation for modern graphic design. It's a thrill to watch some rare footage of candid thoughts from some legendary modern artists, critics and the placement of Color Field within the context of Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. Thank you for digitizing and streaming this, Amazon.
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on September 13, 2015
This is not so much about painters painting as it is about painters talking about painting. Artists such as Barnett Newman and Robert Rauschenberg give us a lot of highfalutin talk without saying much. It's easy to get the impression that they're trying to legitimize their work in a roundabout way. Andy Warhol, the infamous charlatan of modern art, is seen seated with his flunkies giving his usual glib responses. Other artists, earnest artists like Larry Poons, Jules Olitski, Jasper Johns, and Frank Stella remain deeply focused about their work while they discuss their methods. It's evident that they truly enjoy working with the elements of spontaneity and surprise. These are the artists who deserve our attention and who simultaneously bring insight to the documentary and keep it interesting.

This film has definitely changed my impressions of these artists - some for better, some for worse. However, this is the kind of documentary that requires your rapt attention. It's A LOT to take in. Some artists speak in a monotone while others babble on and on. The editor sometimes seems as though he was absent from this production, but there are enough solid interviews here to make it worthwhile viewing. (3.5 stars)
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