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What's happened to the avant garde?

By Mark Cousins   February 2004

This is the story of a lost film, but to care about its loss you first need to know what happened in 1976. Back then, a 30-year-old Montanan painter called David Lynch completed his first feature after five years of shooting and editing. Nihilistic and Freudian, Eraserhead was about a character whose detached head is taken over by a mutant baby, and who exists in rooms vacated by the mysterious "woman in the radiator." The film was a revelation of textures. For visual inspiration, Lynch had dissected a cat, seeing an abstract beauty in its membranes, hair and skin which…

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