Photo by Emily Sawicki

The budget for the work is $1 million and the artwork is a 21 foot tall bust of David Lynch.

Anyone looking to move into the new apartments at 1550 Lincoln — near the intersection of Lincoln and Colorado boulevards — may want to assess how much they like David Lynch before signing their lease.

The new five-story, 100-unit mixed-use apartment building will include ground floor retail, 232 parking spaces and a 21-foot-tall kinetic sculpture of David Lynch’s head. 

Yes, that David Lynch: the enigmatic American filmmaker famous for “Twin Peaks,” “Blue Velvet,” “Mulholland Drive” and the original “Dune,” and whose charitable foundation did not respond to a request to comment on the larger-than-life chrome likeness. 

For years, the City of Santa Monica has required new developments and extensive remodels in the city to include public art. According to a 2017 Arts Commission staff report about the new installation, “In December, 2006 the City Council adopted an ordinance that requires that developers include public art in a majority of new development projects, as well as substantial remodels. The requirement is for an expenditure on art that is equivalent to 2% of the building cost, which are currently fixed at $200 per square foot for new construction and $50 per square foot for remodels.” 

Based on the size of the project, developers NMS Properties were required to install art with a minimum value of $392,000. But NMS went bigger.

The 2017 staff report said “the budget for the proposed artwork will exceed the art requirement significantly,” with an updated public art budget of $1 million including $50,000 toward consultant Lendrum Fine Art (a LA-based art advisory firm and gallery) and $30,000 (or three percent of the artwork budget) committed to an endowment for maintenance of the sculpture.

The new sculpture was created by acclaimed Czech artist David Cerny, whose sculpture work has been described as “shocking and provocative,” according to various online biographies. Compared to some of his famous work that features genitals, weapons and political messages, the David Lynch sculpture avoids incendiary subject matter: “The proposed artwork is of the highest aesthetic quality and has been designed to be eminently suitable to its surroundings, given that it meets City standards for material, vehicular and pedestrian safety,” according to the 2017 Arts Commission staff report. It resembles another Cerny project, a kinetic sculpture depicting surrealist author Franz Kafka that is installed in a public square in Prague, Czech Republic.

The 2017 staff report also included a detailed description of the sculpture.

“The artwork will be comprised of 7-8 mirror-finished, marine-grade stainless steel layers that are stratified to form a head resembling the likeness of David Lynch, which will be mounted atop a plinth. The total height of the artwork and plinth will be approximately 21 feet. Each stratum will be motorized and will spin on bearings, activating this kinetic artwork,” the report described. “The layers will shift and realign in a dynamic and mesmerizing way. At certain points in its revolution it will be figurative; at other’s (sic) it will be abstract and undiscernible (sic) as a human form. The sculpture will remain active 24 hours a day and will present extremely little to no noise disturbance.”

Plans were approved by eight of the 10 Santa Monica Arts Commissioners who voted in 2017; however, the City of Santa Monica was not immediately able to provide details for which commissioners voted in favor and which were opposed. 

The sculpture first appeared in late March, but within a few days was covered with plastic sheeting and, as of Friday, April 8, was no longer visible to the public. 

emily@smdp.com