8 times David Lynch was inspired by Francis Bacon

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*** SPOILER ALERT*** ...obviously.

Well, we're halfway through the new season of "Twin Peaks" and as predicted, everyone is still like... whuuut? I know I am. The new season completely scraps the quirky first season small-town soap opera vibe many people loved. Instead we got a melodramatic piece of absolute television history, more resembling to, well, everything Lynch made beside "Twin Peaks." The first season was a compromise between Lynch and the studio, who wanted him to make a more easy to digest, conventional mystery series. It comes to no surprise, that after getting a carte blanche for the 3rd season, Lynch went alllll the way. 

David is a big fan of Francis Bacon, the painter that is, not the philosopher. When he saw Bacon's work at Marlborough Fine Arts in NYC, he was sold. It wasn't until art school that he discovered filmmaking though. The way that happened is kind of myth. Story goes he was in his studio when a gush of wind moved one of his paintings and the sight of that made him wonder “How would I do a moving painting?” His first moving paint was the video installation Six Figures Getting Sick (1966) which was basically six animated heads throwing up on themselves. Yum!

Francis Bacon was the asthma-stricken, gay, black sheep of his family. Running into his dad, who usually was the epitome of masculinity, while admiring himself in the mirror whilst wearing his mother’s underwear didn't improve their relationship. It even further complicated things when Francis admitted to being sexually attracted to his father. Needless to say, he left home at an early age. This was just the beginning of a life filled with complicated relationships. In a nutshell: not one but two of his lovers committed suicide during a major art exhibit of Bacon's. While still alive, lover Peter Lacy, would beat Bacon to a pulp and leave him half-conscious in the street. The other guy, George Dyer, would go drinking and spending all of Bacon's money. His last relationship wasn't too bad luckily, or at least Bacon died before it got there.

Bacon's complicated and tragic personal life directly influenced his work. Suicide, destitution, self-prostitution, and deep, deep depression are just a few of his reoccurring topics. But whatever the topic of a Bacon painting is, it's always creepy and leaves you wondering...

Yeah that's right. Just like the new "Twin Peaks" season. Let's take a look!

Left: "Twin Peaks: The Return" (2017)
Right: Portrait of a Man by Francis Bacon

Left: "Twin Peaks: the Return" (2017)
Right: Two Figures at a Window by Francis Bacon

Hard to miss these Bacon references! Here we see agent Coop and a white figure, floating in a glass box somewhere up high in a Manhattan loft. Bacon uses similar boxes in many of his paintings. They underline a sense of isolation, but is also supposed to give the viewer an eerie, claustrophobic experience.

Left: "Twin Peaks" (1990-1992)
Right: Left panel of Three Studies for a Crucifixion by Francis Bacon at the Guggenheim museum

Again, hard to miss this one. The Man from Another Place dancing around the Waiting room in his creepy signature way and the two figures on Bacon's Study for a Crucifixion. The other two panels of the triptych show us even more Baconian carcasses/humanoid animals, which makes you wonder, what did they do to them? Is it a butcher shop? Are they murderers? Just Bacon?

Left: Spike/Henry's baby in "Eraserhead" (1977)
Right: Right panel of Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion by Francis Bacon at Tate Britain

Left: "Twin Peaks: the Return" (2017)
Right: Center panel of Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion by Francis Bacon at Tate Britain

More studies for a crucifixion, this time for the "figures" at the base. Not sure what kind of figures, but they OBVIOUSLY resemble the Baby from "Eraserhead," I mean look at it, ew! But it also resembles the treelike thing from the new series. Apparently it represents the “evolution of the arm”, but then again it could be anything. 

Left: "Twin Peaks: the Return" (2017)
Right: Seated Figure by Francis Bacon at Tate Britain

Last one from "Twin Peaks" for now, Coop in the waiting room and "a seated figure" by Bacon. Basically the same thing of you ask me. Let us know what else reminds you of Bacon in the upcoming "Twin Peaks" episodes! 

"Twin Peaks" and "Eraserhead" aren't the only Lynch works that resemble Bacon painting though, here are some more examples:

Top left to right: 
Study for a Portrait by Francis Bacon at Tate Britain
Study after Velázquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X by Francis Bacon at Des Moines Art Center
Study of a Head by Francis Bacon

Bottom left to right:
"Lost Highway" (1997), "Inland Empire" (2006), "Inland Empire" (2006)

Left: "Inland Empire" (2006)
Right: Portrait of a Man with Glasses III by Francis Bacon at Private collection

Left: "The Elephant Man" (1980)
Right: Self-Portrait 1969 by Francis Bacon

Next up: David Lynch and Edward Hopper!

By: Silke

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Silke van de Grift


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