Pennsylvania Academy from 13 September 2014
|David Lynch working at his home/studio in the Hollywood Hills|
|Jack Fisk (left) and David Lynch (right) in Philadelphia, 1967. Photograph: C. K. Williams|
|The screen for “Six Men Getting Sick,” (1967). Photograph: Rodger LaPelle and Christine McGinnis|
|David Lynch, “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” (2012). Credit: David Lynch/Kayne Griffin Corcoran Gallery|
|David Lynch, “Boy Lights Fire” (2010). Credit David Lynch|
David Lynch’s rooftop painting studio, perched high in the Hollywood Hills, is littered with the byproduct of work. Paintings with crude, childlike figures doing menacing things lean up against the walls, unfinished drawings are strewn over his huge desk, and the floor is carpeted with cigarette butts. While the dark visual sensibility of his film work — “Eraserhead” (1977), “The Elephant Man” (1980), “Blue Velvet” (1986), “Wild at Heart” (1990), “Mulholland Drive” (2001), and his TV series “Twin Peaks” (1990-91) — has permeated the public consciousness and widely influenced other filmmakers, writers and artists (including Cindy Sherman and Gregory Crewdson), Mr. Lynch’s own visual art is almost unknown. Yet painting is where he started, enrolled as an advanced student at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia in 1966 and ’67, and it is the medium he continues to work in most actively. His first United States museum retrospective, “David Lynch: The Unified Field,” opens at the Pennsylvania Academy on Sept. 13.
“I loved my time at the academy,” Mr. Lynch said, drinking coffee and smoking at his desk, his genial small-town manner a vivid counterpoint to the eerie tenor of his films. “The building was almost black. All of Philadelphia had a kind of coal-dust patina and a mood that was just spectacular. There was violence and fear and corruption, insanity, despair, sadness, just in the atmosphere in that city. I loved the people there. All these things, whatever way it was, was my biggest influence.”
Despite the cultlike devotion to Mr. Lynch’s films, “nobody’s paid attention to him in terms of my colleagues at American museums,” observed Robert Cozzolino, the senior curator of the Pennsylvania Academy, who organized the show. It brings together paintings and drawings from five decades and includes a trove of barely exhibited early work from Mr. Lynch’s time in Philadelphia that set the tone for everything that followed.
“I think the art world has been suspicious of David, although he was trained as an artist,” said Brett Littman, executive director of the Drawing Center in New York, referring to the fashion of creative people prominent in one arena trying their hand in another. “He’s not James Franco.” Mr. Littman organized a smaller show of Mr. Lynch’s works on paper and photographs last year in Los Angeles at Kayne Griffin Corcoran, which represents the artist.
“David changed the way that we think about visual culture in the United States through his movies,” Mr. Littman said. “You may or may not like his visual artwork, but it’s definitely worth looking at.” [Read More]
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