Prague's Kafka head has a brother: Czech artist unveils David Lynch in L.A.

David Černý's latest sculpture, a spin on his famed rotating Franz Kafka head in Prague, can now be seen at an apartment complex in Santa Monica.

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky Published on 30.03.2024 11:02:00 (updated on 30.03.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

Prague's rotating head of Franz Kafka now has a cousin, and who better than celebrated surrealist filmmaker David Lynch? A new 6.5-meter tall sculpture of the acclaimed director of Twin Peaks is now spinning in Santa Monica, reports Chris Nichols for Los Angeles Magazine, who adds that the Lynch head towers over other local monuments dedicated to icons like Kobe Bryant and Bruce Lee.

The piece was commissioned by NMS Properties as part of a public art initiative at their latest development, an apartment complex at 1550 Lincoln Street. Černý has been working on the sculpture over a number of years, first posting images of himself standing atop the Lynch head to social media last fall.

“I was approached by the developer six or seven years ago,” Černý told Los Angeles Magazine. “He asked me to do something based on my rotating head of Franz Kafka. I had completely free hand to pick whichever character I wanted.”

His choice would be a Hollywood icon who shares a thematic bond with Kafka. Lynch rose to fame through surrealist works like Eraserhead and Blue Velvet, and also directed the 1984 version of Dune. His 2001 film Mulholland Drive was voted by film critics polled by the BBC as the best film of the 2000s.

“The one artist that I feel could be my brother is Franz Kafka,” Lynch once told Chris Rodley. The director had even planned to make a Hollywood version of Kafka's The Metamorphosis, swapping Prague for 1950s America, but abandoned the project when he realized the budget would be too high.

Černý has a special affinity for Lynch, calling him "my favorite film director in all American cinema.” He also noted that Lynch shares a connection with Prague: the director travelled to the Czech capital to record soundtracks for his films like Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway with The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.

Like the Prague bust of Franz Kafka, which reopened last month following lengthy repairs, the Lynch head is built with rotating layers, meticulously engineered utilizing Italian steel and German motors.

“The layers will shift and realign in a dynamic and mesmerizing way," reads a Santa Monica report cited by Los Angeles Magazine. "At certain points in its revolution it will be figurative; at others it will be abstract and indiscernible as a human form. The sculpture will remain active 24 hours a day and will present extremely little to no noise disturbance.”

Černý even got Lynch's approval before crafting the new sculpture. “He asked permission,” says Christian Hohmann of Hohmann Art Gallery, which represents the artist in the United States. “And Lynch loved it.”

“Who would be the modern-day Franz Kafka of Los Angeles? It would be David Lynch."

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