Painting by David Lynch (image courtesy Tilton Gallery)

After Gagosian collected Bob Dylan into his roster of artist for an underwhelming exhibition in his Upper East Side gallery, it’s hard to take these celebrity-turned-artists seriously. While David Lynch is better known as the mastermind behind cult classics Blue Velvet and Dune, actually studied painting in school, exhibited once at Vanderlip Gallery (Philadelphia) in 1968, and has exhibited fairly consistently in international locations since 1987. I admit I was skeptical when I first learned about his double-agenting into the art world, but his work is more than a celebrity’s pastime.

Image courtesy of Tilton Gallery

I See My Love, currently on view at Tilton Gallery (March 6 – April 14) is Lynch’s first solo show in New York since he exhibited with Leo Castelli Gallery in 1989. The exhibition features sculpture, works on paper, photographs and a 42-second film, all made between 2009–2012. Juxtapoz has a nice, long-winded quote from Tilton Gallery:

Lynch’s abstract sculpture, also incorporating lit light bulbs, is simultaneously anthropomorphic, surreal and humorous. Lynch frequently refers to Magritte as one of his favorite artists. More than anything, Lynch’s art is, in all its manifestations, a vessel for his own quirky but unified and consistent vision. A formal line and shape, surrealist and biomorphic in nature, unites the narrative watercolors and paintings with the more abstract photographs, “Distorted Nudes,” the sculpture on display, and the 42-second film also being shown in this exhibition. Lynch’s world view and his ability to capture a mysterious undercurrent in the American psyche illuminates his art across all media.

Jack Nicholson by Ronnie Wood (via NY Daily News)

Guitar guru Ronnie Wood  is another story. Enter the famous rocker who paints his famous friends including Jack Nicholson, Slash and of course his fellow Rolling Stones. New York Daily News calls him “a renowned visual artist,” but his solo retrospective, Faces, Time and Places, at The Symbolic Collection (April 9 – 30), is piggy backing off his upcoming induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The pop culture obsessed Soho gallery treasure trove of “investment collectibles” features art and memorabilia related to rock-star-turned-artists like Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.

But wait! Damien Hirst is a fan of Wood’s art!  Wood says to the New York Daily News that fellow Rolling Stones Mick JaggerKeith Richards and Charlie Watts were once among his toughest critics.

Well, Keith being an artist, and Charlie, they were kind of, ‘Oh, you’ve done it wrong, you’ve overworked it, blah blah blah,’” Wood tells the Daily News. “That was in the old days. But now they’ve kind of owned up to, ‘Wow, you’re pretty good.”

Sweet, but I’m not sure I buy it.

Related Links:

  • David Lynch’s self-directed music video for Crazy Clown Time (released 2011), his debut solo album, recently dropped.
  • Speaking a musicians-turned-artists, can we ever forget that John Lurie’s “Bear Suprise” watercolor that was exhibited at Roebling Hall became a meme — called Preved — in Russia?

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Rhoni Blankenhorn

Rhoni Blankenhorn is a California-born contemporary art writer and consultant, now living in Brooklyn. Find her on twitter @rhonierika.

2 replies on “David Lynch’s Art Doesn’t Suck”

  1. I felt the Lynch show was too uneven to give it a thoroughly positive review, which is perhaps what you’re doing here in simply saying it doesn’t suck.  That’s true.  He was trained as a painter before making films even occurred to him, and has exhibited consistently for as long as you’ve said.  That makes his art worth looking at on its own terms, without respect to his successes as a filmmaker, yet no one is willing (or able?) to do it.  The show is worth seeing if bias can be left at the door.  I have a bias against conservative, factory-made art in Chelsea, so I found Lynch’s constructions pretty cathartic.  Thanks for writing this.  

  2. “Double agenting”??? …..he makes art films. He started as an artist, and continued to be an artist. Just because his films are shown in cinemas and sold on DVDs doesn’t mean he is not an artist, or that his work cannot be described as art. The MoMA (among countless other museums and galleries) screens Lynch films. Although it’s true that the public aren’t as aware of his paintings, etc. I don’t really understand the skepticism over an artist having an exhibition…..

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