David Lynch's great love of art shows in his very peculiar mundane/macabre cinematic visual style.
Watching a David Lynch film is kind of like walking through an art gallery while on LSD. One one hand it's beautiful, artistic, even slightly boring, but on the other it's utterly macabre, so incredibly out there, and so peculiar that the unfamiliarity of the scene seems almost nostalgic. It makes one think, "What kind of man thinks up these kinds of scenarios?" Well, although Lynch is definitely a unique breed of filmmaker, he's not without his teachers, and in this video essay by Menno Kooistra for VoorDeFilm, we get to take a look at the famous painters that inspired the director to create his bizarre brand and cinema. Check it out below:
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Lynch's work has been inspired by many different kinds of artists, particularly those who work in avant garde. This includes Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte, Swiss symbolist Arnold Böcklin, and even director Stanley Kubrick. However, the artists that seem to have made the biggest impact on Lynch's visual style are Irish-born British figurative painter Francis Bacon and American realist painter Edward Hopper.
It's incredibly interesting that these two artists are the ones that are so influential to Lynch's work, in part because they perfectly encapsulate the director's visual style—like an old fashioned vanilla milkshake...with eyeballs in it—but the visual style of the two artists, Bacon and Hopper, essentially represent the dichotomy that makes up Lynch's entire cinematic philosophy: dystopian Americana, the mundane macabre, figurative realism or realistic figurativism. Lynch is the answer to "What do you get when you mix Francis Bacon and Edward Hopper together?"
And even with all of that, we still can't fully describe what Lynchian is.