William Burroughs, David Lynch and Andy Warhol show at Photographers' Gallery

By Mark Sheerin | 14 January 2014

Exhibition previews: Warhol, Burroughs and Lynch, The Photographers’ Gallery, London January 17 – March 30 2014

Black and white photo of electricty pylons
David Lynch, Untitled (England) (late 1980’s/early 1990s)© Collection of David Lynch
Three artists kick off the new year at The Photographer’s Gallery. And it comes to something when the most straightforward body of work here belongs to David Lynch. The filmmaker is better known for incoherent narratives of the dark side of American life. Behind the lens of a still camera, however, he has a penchant for shooting factories and the like.

Along with New York and New Jersey, Lynch has found subject matter in Germany, Poland and the UK. He has said of his industrial scenes: “I like to see people hard at work, and I like to see sludge and man-made waste”. If anyone can find poetry in a production line, then the neo noir director surely does.

Another dark visionary is also to be found in Ramilles Street from the 17th. That’ll be writer William S Burroughs. Visitors will be keen on any portraits of his fellow Beats. The gallery advertise street scenes, still lives and radio towers. For a writer of international renown, Old Bill was certainly keen on other disciplines. London saw a painting show at October Gallery in 2012/13.

But you can find references to his photography in quasi-autobiography Junkie. “I drifted along taking shots when I could score,” he writes. That certainly is an interesting artistic process. Perhaps we should not be surprised that gallery notes place his image making “outside of any canonical structure”.

With two figures from the margins of the art world, the gallery provides a bit of balance with a display of photographic works by Andy Warhol. Ready at all times with his 35mm camera loaded with black and white film, Warhol was a prolific documenter of his life and times.

The display highlights the Pop artist’s interest in seriality and repetition by including some of his 500 "stitched" pieces. These were made between 1982 and the artist’s death in 1987, using identical images and a sewing machine. Warhol’s claim to believe in photography rather than art is borne out by these works.

Whereas you might not associate Lynch, Burroughs of even Warhol with photography, their work in this field is of undeniable interest. From the Gallery’s point of view, what these three talents have in common is legions of fans. Crossover shows like this may be the future, given that everyone nowadays is a photographer.

  • Open 10am-6pm (8pm Thursday; 11.30am-6pm Sunday). Admission free. Follow the gallery on Twitter @TPGallery‎.

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Visit Mark Sheerin’s contemporary art blog and follow him on Twitter.

Black and white photo of a set of smokestacks
David Lynch, Untitled (England) (late 1980’s/early 1990s)© Collection of David Lynch
Black and white photo of a family playing with a kite in an urban park
Andy Warhol, People in the Street (1976-1987)© 2014 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the VisualArts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York and DACS, London, Courtesy Timothy Taylor Gallery, London
Black and white photo of writer Jack Kerouac
William S Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Tangier (1957)© Estate of William S. Burroughs. Courtesy of the Barry Miles Archive
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