The Air Is On Fire

March 19, 2007 at 1:21 pm | Posted in art, spectacle | 5 Comments

The Air is on Fire?

Friday I joined what seemed like all of Paris for the David Lynch exhibit at the Fondation Cartier. Earlier in the week, I had prepared for this experience by seeing Lynch’s latest movie, Inland Empire, but I was somewhat disappointed to see that there wasn’t much relationship between the film and the exhibit. I guess, deep down inside, I’d been hoping that the exhibit might provide a key to making the movie a bit more comprehensible, but who was I kidding? This is Lynch we’re talking about: there will be no clues.

Instead, there were three or four big rooms full of paintings, drawings, and photos, mostly undated and unlabeled, but apparently drawn from Lynch’s entire creative lifespan. Of particular interest were the three long walls filled with many years’ worth of painstakingly archived doodles and sketches — for a man as visual as Lynch is, scanning his doodles feels almost like reading his diary. My personal favorite was a scrap of note paper on which was jotted: “Blue Velvet. Pleasant beginning, ear, nude woman, tumor on brain.” Ha!

As for the actual art works, they were more or less what you would expect: dark, creepy, incomprehensible, but with a strange Jungian undercurrent that makes everything feel like you might have seen it before in a dream. You know those psych tests people give kids sometimes, where they tell them to draw a tree, and a house, and Mommy and Daddy, and supposedly the shrink can tell if the kid’s being abused from what his drawings look like? If Lynch were a little kid, he’d be going straight into foster care.

That's Me in Front of My House

This one, for example, is called “That’s Me in Front of My House.” Another, similar picture was labeled, “Shadow of a Twisted Hand Across My House.” The house shows up again in a painting labeled, “Oww God Mom The Dog He Bited Me!” I tell you, it gave me the jeeblies.

All in all, though, it was a pretty satisfying exhibit: as haunting and disconnected as your average Lynch movie, with the main advantage that, if things started getting dull or repetitive, you could just move a little faster toward the end.



  1. Amy, you have just been one exhibit-hopping diva! I’m impressed… You’ve seen so many great shows recently; I envy that. One of my colleagues here at work just told me about an exhibit showing at the Maison de la culture du Japon à Paris (20th century engravings and paintings by Munakata Shiko), and given my interest in all things Japanese, I’m going to do my best to make it before it ends on April 7th — I’ve missed out on one too many good shows recently!

    I also have a ticket for the Samuel Beckett I received from the Paris Times, but I’m a bit lukewarm about it, especially after reading your review here. Just not sure… But I guess with a free ticket it’s worth taking the time!

    I have to admit, I’ve never been a David Lynch aficionado. As hard as I try, I just cannot get anything of his, and I’m not as fascinated with it as I imagine I SHOULD be. Granted, I still haven’t seen Mulholland Drive, and everyone (including my boy) tells me that this is incredible… Another film to add to my list! Don’t know if I’ll make it to this exhibit though…

  2. Alice, if you read between the lines of my latest posts, you might guess that I’m currently waiting to hear back about my manuscript. Before, my days were largely occupied with writing, but now that I’m just waiting and worrying, I have plenty of time for museums!
    I think the Beckett exhibit is worth it, especially with a free ticket. Just focus on the later rooms, which were definitely the strongest.

  3. *Keeping my fingers crossed for your manuscript; I know you’ve been working really hard for this!*


    Sending excellent vibes your way…

  4. “Blue Velvet. Pleasant beginning, ear, nude woman, tumor on brain.”

    thank you for the stolen inspiration.

  5. Please,
    go to :

    and enjoy it !

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Create a free website or blog at
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: