Talking Heads singer David Byrne sells his quirky quarantine illustrations

The images, known as dingbats, are offered by Pace Gallery in New York for $3,000 each

David Byrne, former frontman of US New Wave rock band Talking Heads © Jody Rogac

David Byrne, former frontman of US New Wave rock band Talking Heads © Jody Rogac

Talking Heads former frontman David Byrne is selling 50 darkly humorous hand-drawn illustrations made while the singer was quarantining in his Manhattan apartment. The images, known as dingbats, are available online with Pace gallery (until 2 November), priced at $3,000 each.

Byrne told The Guardian: “They’re not explicitly about lockdown or being alone. But that’s the undercurrent. Doing something creative like this becomes a kind of therapy, where your fears and anxieties come out. Things you maybe daren’t say to yourself, much less to other people.”

David Byrne's TMI (2020) © David Byrne, courtesy of Pace Gallery

The drawings will be released in five series of ten works published every Monday and Thursday from 15 to 29 October (the first tranche has already sold out). A rotating series of ten drawings, reflecting the most recent selection in the online presentation, will also be shown at Pace Gallery in New York.

All proceeds from the online sale go towards the singer’s own non-profit organisation known as the Arbutus Foundation which supports We Are Not Divided, Byrne’s online editorial project focusing on bridging divides prior to the US Presidential election on 3 November.

David Byrne's A Balanced Life (2020) © David Byrne, courtesy of Pace Gallery

One image, Supply Chain, shows a train with the carriages made out of vegetables. Another work, A Balanced Life, shows a figure precariously balancing possessions on his head, reflecting the responsibilities and grind of modern life. “The [works] all reflect what it feels like to be in this new world,” Byrne adds in a video online.

“The dingbats drawings explore themes and preoccupations associated with daily life during the Covid-19 pandemic, from uncanny scenes of domestic life to surreal figurative illustrations, seeped in metaphor of a mind plagued by loneliness, boredom, and anxiety brought on by quarantine,” adds a statement.

In 2016, Byrne presented a show focused on neuroscience called Neurosociety at Pace’s Menlo Park gallery in California. The Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA) owns eight works by the writer and musician including the 1978 lithograph Talking Heads, More Songs About Buildings & Food.