David Lynch is generally acknowledged as one of cinema's greatest living directors and has been called a purveyor of surrealism. His unique brand of visual storytelling undoubtedly springs from his very creatively complex imagination, but it was also inspired by the works of some of history's most famous artists.

In this video essay, VoorDeFilm takes a look at some of the artists and pieces that have inspired Lynch over the years, including expressionist painter Francis Bacon and realist painter Edward Hopper. 

Watch the video below.

Surrealism and expressionism

Surrealism explores the unconscious mind and allows for combinations of strange, disturbing imagery, while expressionism distorts and exaggerates for enhanced emotional effect. Lynch employs both in his own work.

Lynch especially liked to draw from expressionist painter Francis Bacon. He says he first encountered Bacon's work in the 1960s, which was a "thrilling" moment for him.

Francis_bacon_vsCredit: VoorDeFilm


Lynch is also an admirer of realist painter Edward Hopper, who is perhaps best known for his work called Night Hawks. Hopper's works are clean and colorful and usually portray the everyday, but are dreamlike and almost lonely in their composition.

Blue Velvet is probably Lynch's most Hopper-influenced work, but you can see it also in the final season of Twin Peaks.

Edward_hopper_vsCredit: VoorDeFilm

Everything is subjective

"Every viewer who stands in front of a certain photograph, they're getting a different thing," Lynch says.

Every person engages with a different internal dialogue with what they're seeing, Lynch believes, even though everyone is objectively seeing the exact same thing.

This is part of what makes him such an enjoyable director to watch. He presents his audience with extremely interesting images and stories, and then leaves it up to them to have different experiences.

The above video essay pulls from Lynch's discussion with Paul Holdengräber at the Paris Photo Platform Programme in November 2012. You can watch the full conversation below.

What's next? Check out even more Lynchian articles

Examine the colors of Twin Peaks, enroll in Lynch's MasterClass, and dig into his directorial process.

Source: VoorDeFilm