Bob Dylan art “contemptible”, Paul McCartney’s “childish” – Q magazine on rockers who paint

Bob Dylan art

Bob Dylan art: Skip Sharpe, Face Value exhibition 2013. © Bob Dylan 2013

Bob Dylan art On The Face Of It: Skip Sharpe is “Contemptible.  Just rubbish”.  The portrait should not have been exhibited by the National Portrait Gallery, according to critic Brian Sewell, in his Pop Goes The Easel, a scathing survey of rock musicians who paint.

Sewell’s damning piece was published in Q magazine, November 2013, to coincide with the Face Value show of Bob Dylan art at the National Portrait Gallery, London.

The critic goes on to lambast other rock-musicians-turned-painters. Artwork by Beatles bassist Paul McCartney is dismissed as “childish rubbish”. Edwyn Collins’ artwork shows promise… when judged as the work of a 14-year old! Daniel Johnston’s Captain America is “… just awful.  Utter, utter rubbish”.

Funny, that.  I like Bob Dylan art. I enjoyed the Bob Dylan Face Value exhibition, a small gallery of distinctive portraits. They successfully capture Dylan’s penetrating, sceptical, questioning worldview. My only criticism was that the show didn’t have enough Bo Dylan art.

Bob Dylan Face Value portrait, Skip Sharpe

Bob Dylan Face Value catalogue © National Portrait Gallery 2013

You can judge Face Value for yourself – the handsome, collectable catalogue, published by the National Portrait Gallery, London, is still widely available. I was also impressed by Paul McCartney: Paintings, the 1999 and 2000 catalogues of the Beatle’s artwork: I’m not keen on Macca’s music, but I do like his painting.

Brian Sewell is a celebrated London-based art critic known for his lively journalism and entertaining TV appearances. He tends not to, er, sit on the fence.

The dismissive tone in his Q article was echoed in the recent assessment of some rocker-painters by Guardian critic Jonathan Jones, covered here last week. (Bob Dylan art got off lightly.)

I’m collecting critical commentaries – positive and negative – on rock musicians who paint, to discuss on ROCK | ART | EDITIONS.  If you come across any critiques, please email me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *