Watch an exclusive clip from the new David Lynch documentary

David Lynch: The Art Life intimately illustrates the formative years of the master director and artist behind Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive and a host of fascinating paintings

The interminable David Lynch is known for his filmic landscape-altering oeuvre, from Eraserheard, to Blue Velvet and the recently rebooted Twin Peaks, and his musical ventures range from collabs with Karen O to Chrysta Bell and his curated Festival of Disruption. An upcoming documentary, David Lynch: The Art Life, delves into his earliest and dearest artistic project, painting.

The Art Life is directed by Jon Nguyen, whose 2007 doc, Lynch, traced the filmmaker’s process for Inland Empire. The journey began back in 2012, and alongside Olivia Neergaard-Holm and Rick Barnesa, they spent four years conducting the audio interviews for Lynch’s own narration. The documentary is a revealing look at the prolific filmmaker, unpacking his early years in small town Montana, to life on the darker, hard streets of Philadelphia. The story unfolds to show the intimate experiences that shaped the revered artist and his unique viewpoint right up to his “greatest, happiest moment in cinema”, Eraserhead. We pour over his art, as abstract, sometimes very disturbing artworks populate the screen, piecing together the iconography that started off what we know as the ‘Lynchian’. 

In an exclusive clip, Lynch details how he first met Toby Keeler, who in turn introduced him to his father, the artist Bushnell Keeler.

“He told me his father was a painter,” Lynch says. “That realisation that you could be a painter, popped…blew… all the wiring. That’s what I wanted to do, from that second.” 

One of Lynch’s first ever short films was a home movie titled Sailing with Bushnell Keeler in 1967, capturing his mentor on a Bolex 16mm camera. He details how he begged Toby to bring him to Bushnell’s studio in Georgetown to be introduced. “It was a classic studio, it was so beautiful,” he observes. “Bushnell could really set up a studio… it was just what you would call the art life right before your eyes.” 

David Lynch: The Art Life is in cinemas 14 July