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David Lynch in David Lynch: The Art Life directed by Jon Nguyen | Courtesy of Janus Films.
David Lynch in David Lynch: The Art Life directed by Jon Nguyen | Courtesy of Janus Films.

Before "Twin Peaks," David Lynch Was Living "The Art Life"

Picture of Rachel Gould
Art & Design Editor
Updated: 6 June 2017
Profiling David Lynch’s early career as a visual artist, David Lynch: The Art Life (2016) enlightens the celebrated filmmaker’s legacy through the epoch of his pre-Eraserhead (1977) years. Now 71, Lynch goes down in history for his on-screen magic; yet at his core, he remains an artist.

Thriving at the intersection of the macabre and the mundane, David Lynch has accrued a cult following so devout that Mulholland Drive (2001) was voted the most important film of the 21st century in August 2016, and in May 2017, Twin Peaks (1990—1991, 2017) was revived 26 years after going off the air. But the key to fully appreciating Lynch’s film work lies in the context of his first great love: art.

Constructed with a keen awareness of Lynch’s personal style, The Art Life visually and aurally complements the filmmaker’s body of work, inviting viewers into his Hollywood Hills studio to hear tell of the surreal horrors and real-life plot twists that inspired his vast portfolio of morbid artworks. What it reveals is that Lynch’s formative years as a visual artist lend depth and dimension to his work on screen.

David Lynch in ‘David Lynch: The Art Life’ directed by Jon Nguyen
David Lynch in ‘David Lynch: The Art Life’ directed by Jon Nguyen | Courtesy of Janus Films

The Art Life unfolds through bouts of Lynch’s brilliant, sometimes incomprehensible streams of consciousness. But he starts at the beginning with his birth in Missoula, Montana, and in short order makes apparent his utopian childhood of happy parents, suburban streets, and “tremendous freedo