Tag Archives: Bob Dylan -The Drawn Blank Series

Bob Dylan art: the early work

Bob Dylan art - Music from Big Pink by The Band - cover art by Bob Dylan 1968

Music from Big Pink, The Band – cover © Bob Dylan 1968

Bob Dylan art has a high profile these days.

It’s because Bob Dylan has been busy as a painter and sculptor. He’s been more active as a visual artist than a recording artist ever since 2007’s The Drawn Blank Series exhibition in Chemnitz.

Bob Dylan was painting and drawing long before his artwork was presented in The Drawn Blank Series and the subsequent release of many other, different collections – surveyed here on ROCK ART EDITIONS in January. He was producing art even before Drawn Blank (1994), the book of drawings which provided the raw material for the Chemnitz paintings.

Here’s an outline of early Bob Dylan art, before Drawn Blank.

Music from Big Pink – Bob Dylan art before Drawn Blank #1

Bob Dylan art had its first public outing with the album cover for Music from Big Pink (July 1968), the debut album by The Band, written around the time of the Basement Tapes sessions.

Opinions differ on the quality of the painting on Music from Big Pink. Some regard it as a childish daub. Others see a witty, playful document of the substance-enhanced Basement Tapes sessions. Dylan’s introduction into the picture of a woolly mammoth – uncommon in upstate New York in the 1960s – adds a Surrealist touch to his otherwise naif style.

Sing Out! magazine cover – Bob Dylan art before Drawn Blank #2

The cover of the Oct/Nov 1968 issue of Sing Out!, the folk music magazine, was the second widely circulated reproduction of a piece of Bob Dylan art.

Bob Dylan art - Sing Out! - cover art © Bob Dylan 1968

Sing Out! Oct-Nov 1968 – cover art © Bob Dylan 1968

It’s clearly from the same hand as the cover of Music from Big Pink.

Untitled (Sara) – Bob Dylan art before Drawn Blank #3

The original paintings of the covers of Music from Big Pink and Sing Out! will be valuable. Who knows where they are hanging? (Reproductions abound, of course, in countless Baby Boomer vinyl/CD/magazine collections.)

Bob Dylan art - portrait of Sara Dylan, painting by Bob Dylan

Detail from Untitled (Sara), 1968, oil, by Bob Dylan

Some idea of the value of the originals of the two covers can be derived from the recent sale of Untitled (Sara), 1968, a portrait of Bob Dylan’s then wife. The framed oil on canvas was auctioned by Christie’s, London on 16 December 2014 with an estimated value of £50-70,000.

Self Portrait – Bob Dylan art before Drawn Blank #4

The portrait of Sara, like the cover artwork for Music from Big Pink and Sing Out!, escaped the attention of most Bob Dylan fans at the time. But Dylan aficionados could hardly miss the self-portrait adorning the cover of the Self Portrait album (1970).

Most buyers of Self Portrait echoed the contemporary critical dismissal of the music on the album – “What is this sh*t?”. Those who gave any thought to the Bob Dylan art on the album sleeve were probably just as scathing about it as they were of the vinyl inside.

Bob Dylan art Self Portrait

Self Portrait © Bob Dylan 1970

Self Portrait is now regarded rather more favourably. I expect a similar reappraisal of the self-portrait on the cover – though the new self-portrait on Another Self Portrait (2013) is destined to be rather more popular.

Writings & Drawings – Bob Dylan art before Drawn Blank #5

Buyers of Writings & Drawings (1973) focussed on the writings – lyrics, including many then-unreleased songs and Dylan prose/poetry taken from LP artwork – and virtually ignored the drawings. Fair enough – Bob Dylan’s USP is his peerless use of language, not his proficiency as a draughtsman.

Bob Dylan art - Writings & Drawings

Lay Lady Lay, one of fifteen sketches in Writings & Drawings © Bob Dylan 1972

Revisiting Writings & Drawings decades after first publication, I found its fifteen drawings rather more compelling, especially in the updated version, Bob Dylan Lyrics 1962-1985, where all the drawings are placed alongside the songs they illustrate.

If you haven’t looked at these drawings for a while, I’d urge you spend ten minutes exploring them – if you know your Dylan, you’ll recognise the wit, the style and the worldview.

These drawings are probably under-appreciated. If I were Bob Dylan Inc., I’d be tempted to publish signed, limited edition prints of the fifteen pieces – they’re an unexploited revenue steam.

Album covers – Bob Dylan art before Drawn Blank #6

Relatively little Bob Dylan art has been employed on his album covers – in sharp contrast to the discography of Joni Mitchell, Dylan’s nearest musician-artist peer.

Bob Dylan art - Planet Waves - cover art by Bob Dylan 1974

Planet Waves – cover art © Bob Dylan 1974

The cover of Planet Waves (1974) is a striking monochrome image in what would become Bob Dylan’s signature Expressionist style. The CD artwork for Infidels (1983) and Empire Burlesque (1985) also includes Dylan drawings. Anyone familiar with Drawn Blank will recognise them.

Bob Dylan art before Drawn Blank: conclusions

Bob Dylan art before Drawn Blank consists of a few rarely-seen high-value originals and many reproductions which are are widely available at low cost.

There’s probably a market gap here, just waiting to be filled. I’d wager that well-executed limited editions of pre-Drawn Blank images would attract Bob Dylan art collectors and investors.

Your views on Bob Dylan art before Drawn Blank

If you’re aware of other Bob Dylan art before Drawn Blank that I’ve missed here, please let me know: I’ll be delving deeper in future posts on ROCK ART EDITIONS and will welcome your contribution.

I’m also very interested to know what you think of Bob Dylan art – before and after Drawn Blank. Is it another window into the soul of a creative polymath? A waste of time? A harmless diversion? Please share your views via the “Leave a reply” link at the top of this post.

Copyright: text © Gerald Smith, ROCK ART EDITIONS, 2015; images © Bob Dylan and publishers, dates as specified. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

Bob Dylan art: the first 10 series – introduction

Bob Dylan art, released in ten series since 2007, is now a substantial body of work. Bob Dylan has recently been as busy producing visual art as he was recording albums in his mid-1960s heyday.

As his music output has diminished, Dylan has developed his visual art with trademark vigour – exactly what you’d expect from a creative artist with the energy levels and work ethic needed to undertake the Never Ending Tour.

Bob Dylan’s art is ambitious.  It covers a variety of subject matter.  And Dylan the artist is willing to tackle a wide range of different media.

Bob Dylan art is officially endorsed, with exhibitions of different work staged in four prestigious European public museums, in Germany, Denmark, Italy and England. Works for sale have been shown by two major commercial galleries, Gagosian in New York and Halcyon in London, as well as many smaller venues.  The art world has embraced Bob Dylan.

The best-known Bob Dylan art is The Drawn Blank Series, which has seen several releases since 2007.   Its signed, limited edition prints now adorn the walls of many thousands of collectors and investors.

New Bob Dylan art has come thick and fast since 2010, with the release of nine other series: Bob Dylan On Canvas, The Brazil Series, The Asia Series, Revisionist Art – Thirty Works, The Revisionist Art Series, Mood Swings (including Iron Works and Gangster Doors), The New Orleans Series and Face Value.

Here’s an introduction to this impressive array of Bob Dylan art.

Bob Dylan Art #1: The Drawn Blank Series

The Drawn Blank Series 2010 release, Man On A Bridge

Man On A Bridge © Bob Dylan and Washington Green 2010

Bob Dylan art was launched with The Drawn Blank Series exhibition at Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, Germany, in 2007.  It was a collection of watercolours developed from the pencil sketches of Drawn Blank, his 1994 book.

Bob Dylan went on to create (and sign) limited edition prints of The Drawn Blank Series for publisher Washington Green, in a series of releases between 2008 and 2014.  The graphics went on sale through Halcyon Gallery, London and the Castle Galleries chain, plus some independent UK art retailers and several US galleries.

ROCK ART EDITIONS recently reviewed the The Drawn Blank Series 2008-2014 retrospective exhibition and the most recent, 2014 releases.  The Drawn Blank Series is easily the best-known and most widely distributed series of Bob Dylan art.

Bob Dylan Art #2: Bob Dylan On Canvas

Bob Dylan art The Drawn Blank Series acrylic on canvas 2010

Two Sisters © Bob Dylan 2010, acrylic on canvas

Halcyon Gallery has also exhibited original canvases on several occasions, notably in Bob Dylan On Canvas in February 2010. It contained 12 works, acrylics on canvas, including Two Sisters (pictured, left), two different versions of Train Tracks and one of Woman in Red Lion Pub, popular images from the limited edition prints, and some of my favourites from that series.

In addition, in 2013, Halcyon Gallery introduced a hybrid mini-series, Side Tracks, a collection of 325 prints of Train Tracks hand-embellished individually by the artist to create another set of unique artworks.  (Side Tracks could be counted as another – an eleventh – series of Bob Dylan art.)

Bob Dylan Art #3: The Brazil Series

Bob Dylan painting, Vineyard, Brazil Series,

Vineyard, The Brazil Series, © Bob Dylan 2010

For his follow-up to The Drawn Blank Series, Bob Dylan, never one to stand still, produced a very different looking collection, The Brazil Series.

The Brazil pictures are bolder, more sombre, more socially engaged, more concerned with groups of people.

Clearly conceived as a collection, The Brazil Series of paintings (acrylics on canvas) and drawings (pencil on paper) were exhibited at Museum for Kunst, Kopenhagen, National Gallery of Denmark, September 2010-February 2011.  The catalogue has nearly 50 images – 80% were displayed in the Copenhagen exhibition.

 

Bob Dylan Art #4: The Asia Series

Monk by Bob Dylan, The Asia Series, Gagosian

Monk, The Asia Series, © Bob Dylan 2011

The Asia Series of 18 acrylic and oil paintings on canvas were shown at Gagosian Gallery, New York in September/October 2011.  The pictures, like The Brazil Series clearly conceived as a collection, reveal Bob Dylan exploring another, even more exotic, culture.  My favourite images from The Asia Series include Monk (pictured) and The Bridge.

The Asia Series, like Chronicles, his outstanding book (“non-autobiography”), drew accusations of plagiarism. I’m an agnostic on such matters: I like the work, but haven’t devoted enough time to feel comfortable pontificating on its derivation.  Readers with the time and inclination to research the issue will find plenty of discussion online.

Bob Dylan Art #5: Revisionist Art – Thirty Works by Bob Dylan

Revisionist Art: Thirty Works by Bob Dylan catalogue 2012

Bob Dylan Revisionist Art © Bob Dylan and Gagosian Gallery 2012

Revisionist Art – Thirty Works by Bob Dylan was exhibited at the prestigious Gagosian Gallery, New York, November 2012-January 2013. It consists of 30 pieces, jokey reworkings of old American magazine covers, many featuring female body parts, prominently.

The artworks of Revisionist Art, silkscreen on canvas, are a bridge too far for me. Ignorant of most of the cultural references, I’d need to educate myself in twentieth century American popular culture to get the in-jokes.

Bob Dylan Art #6: The Revisionist Art Series

Bob Dylan art - The Revisionist Art Series, Halcyon Gallery, London 2013

Exhibit in The Revisionist Art Series © Bob Dylan 2013

Adjoining the Mood Swings show at Halcyon Gallery, London in 2013 (see below), several additional silkscreen prints, including the spoof cover of Life magazine, pictured here, featuring Humphrey Bogart and Woody Allen, were presented as the Revisionist Art Series.

As with the Gagosian Revisionist collection, above: this is not really my bag.  Normally averse to the “my five years old daughter could do that” school of art criticism, I’m sorely tempted, in this case, to join that tedious conservative tendency.  I just don’t get it… though I’m open to persuasion.

Bob Dylan Art #7: The New Orleans Series

Bob Dylan art: New Orleans Series, Milan exhibition

Bob Dylan New Orleans Series exhibition, Milan © Bob Dylan and Palazzo Reale 2013

The New Orleans Series of paintings, exhibited at Palazzo Reale, Milan in February/March 2013 looks like an interesting small collection of oils on canvas, mainly figurative.

But visiting Milan in early 2013 was a trip too far for me.  I’d jump at the chance to see it in London, and would even find an excuse to see it in Paris or Berlin.

There is no printed catalogue, as far as I’m aware, so The New Orleans Series remains the least-known collection of Bob Dylan art.  A pity because it looks intriguing.

Bob Dylan Art #8: Mood Swings – Iron Works

Bob Dylan sculpture in iron at Mood Swings exhibition, Halcyon Gallery, London 2013

Iron Works © Bob Dylan 2013

I was impressed, if a little confused, by the scale of Bob Dylan Mood Swings, staged in November 2013 at Halcyon Gallery, London.

The exhibition catalogue covered the iron sculptures, which I found interesting, if unengaging. I could see the skill, but the art escaped me.

I was confused by the curation.  The three contiguous mini-exhibitions at the Halcyon Gallery – Gangster Doors, Revisionist Art Series, and Side Tracks – competed for attention with Bob Dylan’s iron creations.

Bob Dylan Art #9: Mood Swings – Gangster Doors

Bob Dylan art, Mood Swings, Gangster Doors, Mood Swings exhibition, Halcyon Gallery, London 2013

John Dillinger, Gangster Doors © Bob Dylan 2013

Gangster Doors was a series of six distressed car doors inspired by the exploits of folkloric US criminals like Al Capone and John Dillinger.

Shown alongside Bob Dylan Mood Swings – Iron Works, staged in November 2013 at Halcyon Gallery, London, it seemed almost incidental.

I generally admire Bob Dylan art, especially the paintings and drawings, and I’m particularly fond of some of the Drawn Blank, Brazil, Asia and New Orleans pieces.  But Mood Swings – Gangster Doors, like Mood Swings – Iron Works, as well as Revisionist Art, leave me cold.  I suspect that they might be very collectable, but they fail to excite.

Bob Dylan Art #10: Face Value

Bob Dylan art - Face Value, London

Face Value exhibition poster © Bob Dylan and National Portrait Gallery London 2013

Face Value, a set of 12 pastel on paper portraits, occupied a small room of the National Portrait Gallery, London from August 2013 to January 2014.

The National Portrait Gallery, located in the very heart of tourist London, must be one of the most accessible in the world. It carries the prestige of a well-funded national collection. And entry is free.

I popped in several times and enjoyed each viewing, admiring Bob Dylan’s skills as a portraitist: he endows his subjects with life, personality, individuality.

I’d guess that the accessibility of the gallery, complemented by a lengthy run and a fine, widely-available catalogue, made Face Value the most popular Bob Dylan art exhibition so far.

Bob Dylan art: likes and dislikes

Of all the Bob Dylan art exhibited to the end of 2014, I favour the paintings – whether in water colours, gouache or acrylic.  Many are engaging, stimulating, pleasing.  It’s typical of contrarian Bob Dylan that, rejecting the Zeitgeist of abstraction and conceptual art, he opted to start showing his art in the guise of a traditional figurative painter.

His signature neo-Expressionist style, with its echoes of early twentieth century German and French painting, marks him as a singular talent.  I can visualise Bob Dylan images hanging alongside canvases by Ecole de Paris masters like Georges Rouault and Chaim Soutine at the school’s unofficial HQ, the magnificent Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, on the Right Bank of the Seine, just upstream of Trocadero.

My painterly prejudices prevent me, however, from embracing Bob Dylan art in other media. Iron Works and the Gangster Doors – the two series on show in the Mood Swings show in London – didn’t engage me at all. Neither did the Revisionist Art – Thirty Works by Bob Dylan.  My tastes are probably more conventional, more conservative than I realised: maybe I need to widen my horizons.

Overall, the Bob Dylan art presented in most of these ten series, is impressive. It’s an eloquent riposte to the naysayers – hardcore Dylan followers included – who denigrate the work.   Perhaps it’s time they looked again.  Bob Dylan is now much more than a giant of twentieth century music. He has established his credentials as a multi-disciplinary creative artist.

These ten series of Bob Dylan art in just eight years reveal him to be a prolific visual artist. Who knows how much more we can expect?

What do you think of Bob Dylan art?

Your comments are very welcome – please Leave a Reply via the link at the top of this post.

Bob Dylan art: coming soon on ROCK ART EDITIONS

You’ll find my reviews of The Drawn Blank Series 2008-14, the 2014 releases, and Side Tracks in the ROCK ART EDITIONS Archive.  I’ll be reviewing other Bob Dylan art series here soon.

You can ensure that you don’t miss any new reviews by registering to receive all new blog articles as they are posted, by email – please use the sign-up box in the right hand margin, above.

And why not bookmark ROCK ART EDITIONS now?

Bob Dylan art: The Drawn Blank Series 2014 – a mixed bag

Bob Dylan art just keeps on rolling off the production line. Yesterday saw the launch of Bob Dylan – The Drawn Blank Series 2014, eight new prints developed from sketches first published in Drawn Blank, Dylan’s largely ignored, but oh-so-desirable, slim 1994 book.

The eight limited edition graphics just released are on sale at outlets in the Castle Galleries chain in the UK.

Bob Dylan art

Woman in Red Lion Pub © Bob Dylan/Washington Green 2014

Bob Dylan art – The Drawn Blank Series 2014: smaller prints

The eight new prints are available individually and in a range of boxed sets. Six have been released in a “Standard” (53.5cm x 40cm) size.

My personal favourite is Woman in Red Lion Pub, a memorable image. Dylan exhibits enviable technique here – how on Earth did he make this woman – a broad-beamed, middle-aged barfly with greasy hair – so alluring?

Its blue colour palette is a delight, though I prefer the 2008 version, where Woman is wearing a canary yellow dress. The earlier print’s brighter colour and larger size emphasise the subject’s perpetual struggle with her weight (and poor dress sense).

The other striking Standard image is the evocative Sunday Afternoon: you just feel you’ve been there. Cityscape also appeals to me.

Bob Dylan Art

Sunday Afternoon by Bob Dylan, © Bob Dylan/Washington Green 2014

I’d expect this trio to sell well.

The other three Standard prints are less appealing. The weakest image, Slide, suggests that publishers Washington Green might be near to exhausting the rich seam of images from Drawn Blank.

The Standard-sized prints are published in editions of 295, at £1500 each, unframed.

Bob Dylan art – The Drawn Blank Series 2014: larger prints

There are two “Medium” (75cm x 56cm) prints in the new releases. Train Tracks has been one of the key images since the launch of The Drawn Blank Series in 2008. It has been released in a variety of colours. I find the new image, in vivid scarlet, unconvincing.

Sunflowers, the other Medium print, is disappointing: it doesn’t say “sunflowers” to me.

Medium-sized prints are published in editions of 295, at £2750 each, unframed.

Bob Dylan art – The Drawn Blank Series 2014: box sets for investors

Astute publishers, Washington Green are well aware that Bob Dylan – The Drawn Blank Series appeals to investors as well as Dylan collectors and hardcore fans.

And so you can buy box set collections of the new images – the Medium pair at £4950, the Standard six at £8,500, and the Complete Collection (all eight prints) for £12950.

Bob Dylan art – The Drawn Blank Series: 2014 v 2008

The 2008 releases in Bob Dylan – The Drawn Blank Series were spectacular. The key images, Woman in Red Lion Pub, Man on a Bridge, and Train Tracks, established Bob Dylan as a painter with a distinctive vision, an artist to be taken seriously. He had created some beautiful, engaging pieces.

There are some fine artworks in the new, 2014 releases, too, but I find it difficult to generate the enthusiasm I felt six years ago. To my taste, The Drawn Blank Series 2014 is a mixed bag.

New lyrics book, deluxe Basement Tapes, Drawn Blank 2008-2014…

It’s exciting times for rock art collectors/investors partial to Bob Dylan artworks and artefacts.

First we had the publication of Bob Dylan – The Lyrics Since 1962, a prized limited edition book. Then, earlier this week, saw the release of The Basement Tapes Complete, a deluxe box set with an exclusive 120 page hardback book. Yesterday’s publication of Bob Dylan – The Drawn Blank Series 2014, introduced eight new limited edition prints.

And, from next week, you’ll be able to assess the new artwork alongside The Drawn Blank Series prints released in annual batches since 2008.

Castle Galleries’ flagship outlet, Castle Fine Art (24 Bruton Street, Mayfair, London W1), is staging an eagerly-awaited retrospective exhibition, Bob Dylan – The Drawn Blank Series 2008-2014 from next Thursday, 13 November, until 29 November.

It should be a definitive show for Bob Dylan collectors and investors. I’ll be reviewing it here, so make sure you check back late next week – and bookmark ROCK | ART | EDITIONS.

Diligent Dylan collectors and investors need to stay alert these days. ROCK | ART | EDITIONS is tracking and assessing new product, but if you know of something I’m missing, please share your information and insights – “Leave a Reply” by clicking on the link at the top of the post.

Washington Green, publishers of Bob Dylan – The Drawn Blank Series, document their Bob Dylan art in a comprehensive catalogue.