Paris hosts David Lynch tour of world photography

The David Lynch tour of world photography went on show Thursday in the French capital, where the cult US filmmaker hand-picked his 99 favourite images among hundreds on display at the giant Paris Photo fair.

US film director David Lynch ©AFP/FRED DUFOUR

Sex and mysticism, innocence and death, the dreamlike, strange and absurd: Lynch sifted through 800 photos from some 130 international galleries for shots that spoke to him, on show until Sunday under the vaults of the Grand Palais.

Held until now with an annual focus on a region -- Eastern Europe or Africa in recent editions -- Paris Photo invited the director of "Blue Velvet", "Twin Peaks" and "Mulholland Drive" to be its first guest curator.

His selection is flagged up across the various galleries with a "Seen by David Lynch" tag, with a roadmap guiding visitors from one to the next, and the 99 images are grouped in a book.

"We live in a world of opposites, of extreme evil and violence opposed to goodness and peace. It's that way for a reason, but we have a hard time grasping what that reason is," Lynch is quoted as saying in the book of photographs.

Contrasts are at the heart of his selection, with sex, for instance, shown in the pure, smooth lines of a female nude, but also an ageing transvestite, slumped in suspender belt on a hotel bed.

Lynch also chose an image titled "L'Origine du Monde", an anonymous photo from 1862, a close-up between the legs of a naked woman -- which London's James Hyman gallery believes served as source material for Gustave Courbet's iconic painting four years later.

The filmmaker's unflinching eye on the physical world and its decay finds expression in a close-up of folds of animal flesh, or a dilapidated building rotting under the sun.

Death is there both as an abstract presence in a series of aerial shots of World War II bombers, or thrust bluntly at the viewer in a 1936 image of a mass grave filled with victims of the Spanish civil war.

And the American 1950s and 60s -- the conservatism versus the rebellion -- are suggested in a shot of unruly teenage boys hanging out of car windows, or a fully-clothed family, gingerly dipping toes in the sea.

Himself an artist and photographer as well as filmmaker, Lynch will be at the fair on Sunday for a round table on filmic elements in still and moving pictures.

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