Digital Nudes, 2021 by David Lynch
Alexandre Rodrigues da Costa
3 min

The Ambiguity of Nudity Revealed: David Lynch's Books of Nudes

3 min

Sex, Violence, and the Grotesque

For many people, David Lynch is a name associated with films like “Blue Velvet”, “Mulholland Drive”, “Twin Peaks”, and “Inland Empire”. However, before becoming a filmmaker, David Lynch studied painting at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design in Washington, D.C., the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 1964, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1967. Not limiting himself to painting, he began making short films in the late 1960s, and in 1977, his first feature film, “Eraserhead”, debuted in theaters.

In almost all of his films, one can find elements linked to sexuality, such as violence and the grotesque. In “Blue Velvet”, for example, we see the character Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) in a sadomasochistic relationship with Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper), in a way that the film is permeated by an atmosphere of eroticism and violence, with scenes that explore sexual obsession, voyeurism, and sexual exploitation.

David Lynch nudes

Fig.1. Nudes, 2017

Digital Nudes, 2021 by David Lynch

Fig.2. Digital Nudes, 2021

Nudes by David Lynch

Fig.3. Nudes, 2017

Nudity Without Cliches

It is therefore not surprising that sex has a considerable presence in David Lynch's work, extending beyond cinema. In the photographs that comprise the books 'Nudes' and 'Nudes digital', he approaches the female body through images that defy clichés aimed at this type of representation, revealing a complexity that transcends mere sensuality. Faced with the photos in these two books, the reader is led through a labyrinth of images that evoke contrasting sensations: fascination and discomfort, beauty and strangeness, sensuality and desolation."

close up nude by David Lynch

Fig.4. Nudes, 2017

David Lynch nude photography

Fig.5. Nudes, 2017

David Lynch head close-up with hands

Fig.6. Nudes, 2017

Nudity Without Settings

The photos, mostly in black and white, are composed of details of body parts that occupy empty spaces, as if they were floating on the page. This strategy of focusing on body parts allows David Lynch to explore them as a canvas, using light to create zones of shadow and produce strange, enigmatic images. In this sense, "Nudes" and "Nudes digital" are not merely books about nudity, as the artist works ambiguously with the iconography dedicated to female nude photos, abandoning the settings typically used in this type of production.

David Lynch photography

Fig.7. Digital Nudes, 2021

close-up mouth photography by David Lynch

Fig.8. Nudes, 2017

nude photography by David Lynch

Fig.9. Nudes, 2017

In the extended Premium edition of this article you'll find much more on Lynch's stylistic elements and strategies in his nude photography and 33 additional pics.

Click HERE for the preciousness of the human body in the photography of Pavlo Protsenko