David Lynch to get his first major painting retrospective


David Lynch is a man of mystery. We know and appreciate him as the director of enigmatic, often baffling films that leave us wondering what the hell we just watched. His personal life is as elusive as his plotlines, yet he continues to surprise us with projects such as his own brand of coffee and his recent collaboration on a line of high-end women’s yoga apparel. Yes, Lynch is confusing, but we love him anyway.

In his latest sneak attack, Lynch will have his first U.S. museum retrospective, “David Lynch: The Unified Field,” at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts between September 13 and January 11. The show will exhibit paintings from his own student days at the academy along with his contemporary work.

It’s no secret that painting and visual art are central to Lynch’s creativity. He’s had gallery shows throughout Europe and a show at the Kayne Griffin Corcoran Gallery in L.A. last year, but this is his first major retrospective.

Lynch began painting as a child and enrolled as an advanced student at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia in 1966. (He had dropped out of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in his first year). He has said that painting is still his preferred medium.

“I think the art world has been suspicious of David, although he was trained as an artist,” says Brett Littman, executive director of the Drawing Center in New York, who organized a small show of Mr. Lynch’s works on paper and photographs last year in L.A. 

The new show features more than a half dozen early canvases depicting human, mammal, and plant hybrids, as well as more recent photogravures with nude figures. The show will also showcase his student films “The Alphabet” (1968) and “The Grandmother” (1970), which won Mr. Lynch a fellowship at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles.

The Philadelphia Film Society will also screen all of Lynch’s films. Given that it’s been eight years since Inland Empire, his most recent feature film, it seems likely that he dedicates much of his time to producing visual art, photography, and music (he has a sound studio beneath his painting studio).

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