David Lynch’s career has spanned over 40 years, directing critically acclaimed films like Elephant Man (1980), Blue Velvet (1986) and Mulholland Drive (2001). What is less known is his parallel and extensive oeuvre of surrealist artwork. The Max Ernst Museum in Germany held a major exhibition this past winter, presenting more than 150 pieces by the American filmmaker. If you’re gutted you couldn’t make it to Brühl, the extensive book David Lynch: Dark Splendor is the perfect fix you’ve been aching for.

Words Renasha Khan

Emily Scream #1, 2008, Digigraphie

Emily Scream #1, 2008, Digigraphie

The book is a celebration of this exhibition and contains detailed essays giving a lucid insight into the cineaste’s creative vision – a vision extended beyond cinema, to animation, lithography, digital print, drawings, photography, installation and painting. What is clear from the book is that his allure and success as a filmmaker is rooted in a love and understanding of painting and fine arts.

The reproductions in Dark Splendor are comprehensive and remarkably captivating, engaging not only fans but also a wider audience too. The Distorted Nudes series (2004) displays Lynch’s obvious fascination with the macabre, something that is undoubtedly evident throughout his dramatic works such as his much lauded TV series Twin Peaks (1990). Such fluid diffusion of concepts across media can also be seen in the remarkably detailed pen and ink matchbook drawings. These depict surreal landscapes and dreamlike interiors inside matchbooks and are suffused with the same sense of foreboding and atmospherics, which are so characteristic of his cinematic offerings and are resonant throughout the prints in the monograph.

David Lynch: Dark Splendor is a fan’s dream in that it illustrates the sheer breadth of Lynch’s artistry and stands up to claims of his genius. One thing is for sure; Lynch’s place is secure as one of the most enigmatic and quixotically creative energies of the 20th century.

David Lynch, (1946-)

David Lynch, (1946-)

Untitled from the Industrial Motives series, undated, photographs

Untitled from the Industrial Motives series, undated, photographs

Untitled from the Distorted Nudes series, 2004, digital print

Untitled from the Distorted Nudes series, 2004, digital print

Buy here

David Lynch: Dark Splendour
Edited by Werner Spies, texts by Dietmar Dath, Stefanie Diekmann, Thomas W. Gaethgens, Andreas Platthaus, Peter-Klaus Schuster, Werner Spies, graphic design by KOMA AMOK
English 2010
352 pp., 346 ills.
Published by Hatje Cantz, Berlin