As one of the most influential artists of all time, Bob Dylan has sold more than 125 million records. He is now just as revered for his fine art, which offers a unique insight into the Nobel Prize laureate’s world. Collections include Retrospectrum, The Beaten Path, The Drawn Blank Series, Mondo Scripto, The Asia Series and The Brazil Series.
Dylan dates the origins of his work as a visual artist to the early 1960s. A few drawings reached the public gaze with album covers like Music from Big Pink (1968) and Self Portrait (1970). In 1974, Dylan spent two seminal months studying art with Ashcan School tutor Norman Raeben, who philosophised the importance of 'perceptual honesty' - painting life as it as seen, not imagined. Dylan says of this time: "He put my mind and my hand and my eye together, in a way that allowed me to do consciously what I unconsciously felt."
The artist’s journeys between cities and towns are personified by his Expressionist lines, which capture the instant moment of a place, person and time. Repeated motifs encourage the viewer to explore the depths of colour and the evolution of his work. His art has been likened to that of Pablo Picasso, with critics applauding the relatability of his collections. He paints mostly from life, stating: "I’m pretty much interested in people, histories, myth, and portraits; people of all stripes."
In November 2021, the Bob Dylan: Retrospectrum exhibition opened at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum in Miami, where it ran until April 2022. Following a successful tour in Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen, the display spanned six decades and was the largest exhibition of Dylan's work to ever be displayed in the United States. Featuring over 180 paintings, drawings and ironworks from throughout his artistic career, it also included Dylan's brand-new Deep Focus series, which transforms scenes from films into cinematic paintings.
Dylan’s contributions to worldwide culture have been recognised and honoured with many awards. These include an Academy Award for his song 'Things Have Changed', which featured in the 2000 film Wonder Boys, along with 12 Grammy Awards and a Special Citation Pulitzer Prize for his 'profound impact on popular music and American culture'. Further accolades include a Kennedy Center Honor presented by former president Bill Clinton, the Presidential Medal of Freedom presented by former president Barack Obama, and the Nobel Prize in Literature.
During the last six decades he has released more than 50 albums and written in excess of 500 songs, some of the most famous being ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’, ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’’ and ‘Like A Rolling Stone’, which were visually reimagined for the first time in his Mondo Scripto collection. His songs have been covered more than 6,000 times by artists as diverse as Duke Ellington, Jimi Hendrix, Guns N’ Roses, Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bob Marley, Pearl Jam, Neil Young, Adele and U2.
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2018: Mondo Scripto opened at Halcyon Gallery in London. The exhibition presented a selection of Bob Dylan’s most iconic songs, handwritten in pen on paper and accompanied with a corresponding drawing in graphite, also on paper. As Tom Piazza, a celebrated novelist and writer on American music, writes in the introduction to the exhibition catalogue, 'Dylan’s restlessly creative mind is never wholly satisfied, and those familiar with these songs will find surprise at many a new turn of phrase. The unexpected couplings of these works and images offer a surprisingly intimate door into each song, adding dimension, delight and insight into the artist’s relation to his own work.'
2019: A landmark retrospective exhibition, Retrospectrum, featuring Dylan’s artistic output to date opened at MAM Shanghai, before beginning a tour that will cover Asia, Europe and the USA. The exhibition, which later opened at Today’s Art Museum in Beijing and the Jupiter Museum of Art in Shenzhen, re-examined The Drawn Blank Series, The New Orleans Series, Mood Swings, The Beaten Path, and works from Mondo Scripto.
2020: In June, Dylan released his 39th studio album, Rough and Rowdy Ways. An international sensation, the album hit the Top Ten in 15 countries, including #1 chart entries in the Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The Guardian called the album a 'testament to his eternal greatness', while the LA Times dubbed it a 'savage pulp noir masterpiece'.
2021: Bob Dylan: Retrospectrum opened at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum in Miami, showcasing the most comprehensive exhibition of Bob Dylan's artwork ever seen in America. Running until April 2022, the much-anticipated exhibition illustrated the development and diversity of Dylan's visual art through immersive and interactive displays. Featuring over 180 paintings, drawings and ironworks from throughout his artistic career, it also included Dylan's brand-new Deep Focus series, which transforms scenes from films into cinematic paintings.
‘The Retrospectrum Collection’ explores the sheer breadth of Bob Dylan's achievement and his monumental impact on the world as a musician, poet and artist. The collection features recurring motifs from Dylan's portfolio, from scenes of city life to a sense of movement and journeys undertaken.
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