Skip to navigation Skip to main content
John Lurie

The Skeleton In My Closet Has Moved Out To The Garden

John Lurie, who first became a household name as an actor during the 1980’s, owing in particular to his roles in the films Down by Law and Stranger than Paradise by Jim Jarmusch, also cemented his reputation as the saxophonist and leader of jazz-punk group The Lounge Lizards, and not just within New York’s underground scene. He furthermore penned the music for around twenty films and produced a television series during the 1990s, Fishing with John, which has since become a cult classic. In parallel to this wide range of activities, ever since his early days, John Lurie has been active as a painter, drawer and illustrator, though until recently he kept this a secret. His works of art express the same unique aesthetic that his music does, characterised by spontaneous intuition and a taste for provocation. His drawings and watercolours, often reworked with oil pastels and crayon, give a glimpse into an atypical world, characterised by a freedom of spirit. Their honest insolence and opinionated sense of colour, often deliberately striking the wrong (colour) note, create a visual complexity that echoes the acoustic richness of his music. Lurie sees his paintings as an “extended Rorschach test” and starts each one of them as intuitively as possible before thinking up a title only “once the work is three quarters complete”, thus lending it an often unexpected, cartoon-like and cryptic twist. John Lurie’s caustic and absurd Dadaist humour as well as his laconic sexual allusions often hide a contemplative and humanistic undertone, attributing a sometimes profound seriousness to his artistic work. As stated by poet and writer Glenn O’Brian, the works of John Lurie develop in a world of their own: “The best art, visionary art, grabs you by the collar and drags you into another world, a strange world that you’ve never seen before. It might be something like this world. You may recognise certain things. But you know you’re not in Kansas anymore.”