Arts & Culture

Is Filmmaker David Lynch Your New Favorite Furniture Designer?

Ahead of a very Lynchian art exhibit, the Twin Peaks filmmaker tells T&C he wants to spend more time designing lamps and sculpture.
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Most of David Lynch’s fans know him for his cult-favorite movies like Blue Velvet, Eraserhead, and Mulholland Drive or the TV series Twin Peaks. What they might not realize, however, is that Lynch—a four-time Oscar nominee who last month received a lifetime achievement Academy Award—is also an accomplished artist. In fact, as a young man he studied at the Museum School in Boston and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and it was painting that led him to filmmaking.

“I was just painting until I got this idea for a moving painting,” he tells T&C, “and that led to cinema.”

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David Lynch, Shot for Town & Country.
Photo by MAX VADUKUL.

It's a practice he thankfully hasn’t given up. Lynch recently opened Squeaky Flies in the Mud, an exhibition—his first in New York City in nearly seven years—of his paintings, watercolors, works on paper, furniture, lamps, and sculpture at the Sperone Westwater gallery.

This is your first New York exhibition in quite a while. What brought you here?

I don't know how it started, but one thing led to another and here it is.

There’s older work here and newer creations as well. When you’re approached to do an exhibition like this, do you dive into the archives or create new things?

Both. I have stuff that I've made, but then I want to do new work as well. So, on this show, I think I counted eight new paintings and three sculptures. And then the rest is pretty recent work.

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A collection of Lynch's work, on view through December 21 at Sperone Westwater in New York City.
Photo by ROBERT VINAS JR.

What’s your practice like? Are you someone who paints every day?

When I'm into painting, I'm into that pretty much exclusively, but sometimes I don't have the opportunity to paint. So, when I get the opportunity it always takes me some time to get back into it—and that's a very frustrating time. I want to sink back into it, and it takes time. Then the ideas start flowing and I want to stay in there, but then it comes to an end for one reason or another.

What brought the most recent run to an end?

A trip to New York.

This trip?

Yes. I just finished the big sculpture ["Lamp"] the day before the truck came to pick it up.

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Lynch’s "Lamp" in the foreground and "Dialogue During a Picnic #2" on the wall.
Photo by ROBERT VINAS JR.

Will you dive back into making art when you’re home in L.A.?

It's getting to be winter. It can be good weather up through into January, but then it does get cold in L.A. Our blood is thin, we're used to nice warm weather. So, when it gets even a little bit chilly, we suffer just like people suffer in Alaska. Everything's relative.

What got you interested in painting?

In the ninth grade, I had a girlfriend and I was over to her house one night. There were some other people there as well on this particular night, and as I left the house I met a young man my age on the front lawn of her house. He went to private school, so I never met him before and we started talking there on the lawn and somewhere in the talk, he told me his father was a painter. I thought maybe a house painter, and he said, 'No, a fine art painter. And a bomb went off in my head. From the millisecond of hearing this, I wanted only to be a painter. And that was it. He took me to his father's studio the next weekend and I ended up renting a room as a studio for myself.

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Lynch’s work, including "A Lamp," at left, and "A Chair"
Photo by ROBERT VINAS JR.

How is creating artwork different for you than making movies?

It's all ideas. You go where the inspiration from ideas that you happen to fall in love with will take you. Once in a while, you get an idea for a painting that's just like a gift; you're so excited and you know what you're going after it because of the idea, and it takes you into the world of paint. Some ideas are cinema ideas; there are ideas for everything. So, you go by the ideas that you fall in love with.

You’re also exhibiting furniture and a number of lamps. How did you start making those?

I love electricity. I love light bulbs, especially light bulbs from the early days of electricity and light—the filament, the glass, and the shapes. And then I like also I have a woodshop and I love building things with wood. My friend Alfredo is turning into an ace metalworker, so I can design these lamps and he does the metalwork, and I do the wood or plastic or plaster. They're sculpture, but they have a purpose in a home as well, and I really like that. I'd like to do a lot more with lamps and sculptures.

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*This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com

*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors

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