The Pop Renaissance Art of David Palmer


Special Thanks to Dan Warren of Warren Media and Marketing.

Susan Short of Family Beautiful was able to catch up with renowned Pop artist, David Palmer on a recent phone conversation. David Palmer has had a storied career and his art is in that unique juxtaposition of modern contemporary with a foothold in renaissance techniques. Mostly acrylic on canvas, he can be found post pandemic at many art fairs this summer out west. Notably, he was a digital artist on over a dozen Hollywood films, including The X-FilesSpider-Man 3 and the first Harry Potter movie. Remember that 3-headed dog? He helped create him!

A curated tour of his recent work follows:

Arrivals #4, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 40 inches 
When I worked as a digital effects artist on the film Air Force One, my coworkers and I would sometimes go down to the IN-N-OUT Burger at the corner of Lincoln and Sepulveda for lunch. We’d eat in the little park across the street from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and watch the planes come in over our heads to land. That experience was the inspiration for this series of paintings.

He thinks of his work as a cross between Pop Art and Italian Renaissance painting. The paintings are inspired by dreams, childhood memories, and contemporary culture. Their surfaces reveal patches of underlying color, reminiscent of aging frescoes and peeling billboards.

Major Tom, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48 inches
Moonwalk, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 60 inches

Major Tom was inspired by a news story about three members of the International Space Station crew who had been in space for over 6 months, and were returning to earth in the midst of the pandemic. Going from one kind of social distancing to another. The title comes from Bowie’s song Space Oddity, which was on heavy rotation in the studio while I was painting. Moonwalk, from the same series, shows my Labradoodle, Wilson, walking on the moon with an astronaut. This one is kind of a dream image. In real life the dog would need a spacesuit too!

Flying Dream #3, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 72 inches 
This series is inspired by flying dreams, Italian Renaissance paintings of angels, and childhood memories of my brother and I repeatedly jumping off the roof of our garage onto the lawn below.

People Like Cows #15, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 40 inches
I live in Los Angeles, but I grew up in a small town in upstate New York, surrounded by farmland. I was always fascinated by the cows. They never seemed to be in a hurry. The title of this series came from something I heard director David Lynch say at a screening.

Dog Politics, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48 inches
This painting was also inspired by my dog Wilson. Here he is peeing on a $58 million Jeff Koons balloon dog sculpture. Dogs pee on things to mark their territory. It’s their way of saying “I was here!”. Artists mark their territory too, by putting their work out into the world. People have asked if this painting is meant as a dig at Jeff Koons, and it’s not. Both Wilson and I really like his balloon dogs.

Shark Decor #1, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 48 inches
This painting is the same size as the actual shark I got for Christmas when I was 12 years old. My parents ordered it, along with a dissecting kit, from a catalog I’d borrowed from my biology teacher. The basement became my laboratory. It was also our laundry room. I kept the organs I extracted in a vat of formaldehyde for a month, until my mother finally made me throw them out.

For years David mainly exhibited his work in galleries, and also had a number of solo museum shows. But at some point realized that he wasn’t meeting most of the people who were seeing and buying his paintings. Which has turned out to be true!

According to David, “In a normal (non-pandemic) year I travel to a dozen or more art fairs around the country, as far away as Chicago, Dallas, Park City and Seattle, and some here in California. It’s an insane amount of work, but also a lot of fun! I meet thousands of people and get to see the country. It’s kind of like being in a band, but without the roadies. I’m mainly showing at art fairs, but I do still participate in select gallery and museum exhibitions.”

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