David Lynch: The Unified Field

© 2014 David Lynch, courtesy of Asymmetrical Productions.


September 13, 2014 - January 11, 2015


View an exhibition walk-through with David Lynch here.

Historic Landmark Building, Galleries 8, 9, 10, and Morris Gallery 

In 1967 as an advanced painting student at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia (PAFA), David Lynch made a hybrid work of art that brought together painting, sculpture, sound, film, and installation. Six Men Getting Sick (1967) expanded Lynch’s practice and opened him up to the possibilities of filmmaking. He went on to become internationally renowned as a film director but never stopped working as a visual artist. Lynch has maintained a devoted studio practice, developing a parallel body of painting, prints, photography, and drawing that deserves to be better known. In many ways his identity as an American artist brings together all aspects of his creative life into a unified field of subjects and concerns.

David Lynch: The Unified Field is Lynch’s first major museum exhibition in the United States, organized in close collaboration with the artist. It will bring together approximately 90 paintings and drawings from 1965 to present. Part of the exhibition explores Lynch’s early work, much of which has never been displayed in public. Six Men Getting Sick will be restaged for the first time and presented with related drawings. Several early short films, made in Philadelphia, are also be on display.

Recurrent themes in the exhibition include the human body combined with “organic phenomena” in unlikely combinations and the home depicted as a site for childhood memories, flashbacks, nightmares, or passion. Lynch’s ability to suggest the emotional intensity of his subject matter through paint textures, surface effects, and physical traces of his hand, brings intimacy and empathy to even the most disturbing narratives. Many works included present a tense, mysterious, scenario suspended in the course of a story. We witness psychologically-charged moments isolated out of context.

To complement the exhibition, PAFA presents Something Clicked in Philly: David Lynch and His Contemporaries in the Richard C. von Hess Foundation Works on Paper Gallery, on view September 13 – December 28, 2014.

For more information about the painting curriculum at PAFA, where David Lynch was trained as a visual artist, click here.

David Lynch is represented by Kayne Griffin Corcoran Gallery in Los Angeles.

Robert Cozzolino, Senior Curator and Curator of Modern Art

The William Penn Foundation is the presenting sponsor of this exhibition.

PAFA's special exhibitions in 2014-15 are supported by generous contributions from Linda Seyda and Bob Boris and Jonathan Cohen.

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts’ public programs are funded in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency).



General operating support provided, in part, by 


I Burn Pinecone and Throw in Your House, 2009, Mixed media on cardboard, 72 x 108 in. Galerie Karl Pfefferle, Munich, Germany