David Lynch is a groundbreaking filmmaker, but he’s also maintained a lifelong studio practice as a visual artist producing paintings, prints, sculpture and photography. David Lynch: The Factory Photographs made a selection of Lych’s snaps available in book form in 2014. Lynch also published a book of photos of melting snowmen seven years earlier. The subjects of Lynch’s industrial landscapes were familiar to fans of the director’s last feature film, Inland Empire. That said, industrial spaces show up in the director’s other movies like Blue Velvet. Blue Velvet is also noted for its dark eroticism and shocking use of nudity, and in his latest photographs Lynch turns his attention to the female form in a manner that speaks to both the director’s earlier pictures as well as his filmography.
There’s a documentary about Lynch’s early films, music and paintings called Pretty As A Picture. Lynch has gifted movie audiences with some of the most memorable frames in the past 40 years of American film, but I wouldn’t call the director’s images “pretty.” Strange, surreal, disturbing, beautiful — Lynchian images undulate with deep, broad implications, inspiring the same in their descriptors. That said, Lynch’s photography is mostly a formal affair about lines and gestures, and blacks and whites whether his subjects are factory or feminine.
David Lynch’s factory photographs feature crisscrossing staircases, the looming angles of electrical towers, the spiral cycles of barbed wire looping across the top of a perimeter fence, shadowy exteriors silhouetted in golden hour light. There are senses of solitude captured in the massive interior spaces Lynch lenses, and the stillness he captures in his un-populated industry-scapes sometimes sacralizes his smokestacks and ritualizes his razor wire. But, mostly, I like these as damn fine photographs of sites most artists wouldn’t document.
Nude women are exactly the opposite of something most wouldn’t document. Female forms are art’s most prevalent subjects but Lynch’s take is mostly more stylized than sexy, more studied than smutty. There’s nothing about these photographs that smacks of pornography, but their not strict, stuffy pictures either. These hips and elbows and thighs and breasts are still meditations on line and light, and the black and white pictures in this volume clearly belong to the same eye behind those shadowy sheds and sunlit loading docks.
Among the more formal black and white photos occasional images suddenly channel the otherworldly frames found in Lynch’s films — a snap of a solitary cloud of light-filled smoke floating above a living room couch comes to mind. But the artist’s photos resemble his films most when Lynch opts for color images and gives us crimson finger nails, ruby red lips and open mouths full of cigarette smoke. These images are all cast in orange and yellow like Lynch lit his models with a bonfire, and the book’s center section of heavy glossy printed pages reads like stills from scenes cut from Wild at Heart (1990).
Here are some images from the book…