Tag Archives: Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan Bootleg Series Deluxe box sets: desirable? Good value? Worthwhile investment?

How desirable are the Bob Dylan Bootleg Series Deluxe box sets?  Do they offer good value?  Are they a worthwhile investment?

The last Bob Dylan article in ROCK ART EDITIONS concluded that the ten standard releases in the Bob Dylan Bootleg Series are noteworthy for their “definitive photos and exquisite packaging”, as well as their music.

This follow-up article turns to the visual art of the four Deluxe box sets, focusing on their “rock art” – slipcases, books, photos and packaging.

The music – which ranges from very good to celestial – is largely ignored in this article.

Bob Dylan Bootleg Series Deluxe box sets: Vol. 8 Tell Tale Signs

After releasing Vols. 1-7 in a standard 2CD-in-slipcase format, Columbia Legacy innovated for Vol. 8 with an added-value option, an “Expanded Deluxe Edition”, with a third CD and more artefacts.

The release introduced a handy new format in a rigid card slipcase, in an attractive new size, 8 5/8″ square x 1 5/8″ thick. The slipcase holds two hardcover books. A 60pp book with liner notes and photos is a bigger version of that in the standard-size 2CD release. The extra book, Collected Single Sleeves, is a 160pp hardback, with reproductions of the paper covers which housed Dylan vinyl 45rpm records released around the world.

Bob Dylan Bootleg Series deluxe box sets

Tell Tale Signs Deluxe Edition

The Bob Dylan online store offered an incentive to customers ordering from them: an exclusive 7″ single. And the first 5,000 orders were also rewarded with a Theme Time Radio Hour poster.

Sony probably had mixed feelings when evaluating the success of the release. It must have been a commercial success – it seems to have sold out pretty quickly. But it attracted hostility from some hardcore Dylan fans. Many, perhaps shocked by the novel nose-bleed price level, labelled it a “rip-off” – bad news if the intention was to roll out subsequent releases.

The naysayers perceived Vol. 8 as an attempt to extract an unwarranted premium price for CD3. The problem was probably not the new price level (about £100 in the UK, from memory), but limited added value: the extras didn’t warrant the price differential over the 2CD release.

The music on the standard Tell Tale Signs is among the high points of the whole series. CD3 in the Deluxe Edition was, frankly, rather marginal. And the second book was an odd choice, appealing to a minority of purchasers. The book was also sold separately as a “limited edition”, undermining further the allure of the Deluxe box. I bought (for £15) the copy I happened upon in London.

The release of a single CD version of Bob Dylan Bootleg Series Vol. 8 Tell Tale Signs – another  novelty – probably confused buyers further.

Bob Dylan Bootleg Series Deluxe box sets: the template is fixed

In hindsight, Columbia Legacy made errors with the Deluxe edition of Vol. 8.  But they proved there’s a market for high-priced, added-value product and worked out a template for subsequent releases: a rigid card slipcase, measuring 8 5/8″ square; two hardback books, the first an expanded version of the mainstream CD-sized version, also housing the discs, and a second with extra photos, vinyl cover art, studio logs and the like. They probably learned that they needed to offer more obvious added value.

Columbia Legacy also demonstrated their marketing nous by standardising the size and formatting of deluxe boxes.  It tempts collectors to buy the complete set… by buying Vol. 8 Deluxe Edition, many Dylan fans unconsciously signed up for subsequent deluxe box sets.

The next Bootleg Series release, Vol. 9 The Witmark Demos, probably came too soon to apply these lessons. It was only released as a CD-sized two disc package with card slipcase and matching booklet: a first-rate release, but not Deluxe. (In Concert – Brandeis University 1963, a seven track promo CD was offered as an exclusive incentive by Amazon, but it wasn’t part of the Vol. 9 package).

Bob Dylan Bootleg Series Deluxe box sets: Vol. 10 Another Self Portrait

Vol. 10 Another Self Portrait improves on the Deluxe model established with Vol. 8. It has two extra CDs of music, “the first complete release of the August 1969 Isle of Wight Festival performance newly re-mixed from the original source” and a “remastered version of the 1970 Self Portrait album, in its entirety with original sequencing.”

Bob Dylan Bootleg Series deluxe box sets

Another Self Portrait Deluxe Edition

The musical extras might be underwhelming, but the packaging isn’t. The attractive rigid slipcase houses two excellent hardcover books. A bigger version of the standard version liner notes includes the revisionist essay by Greil Marcus (author of the notorious “What is this shit?” 1970 Self Portrait review in Rolling Stone).  It has the same exquisite front cover photo as the CD-sized booklet (uncredited, but probably by John Cohen). The second book, Time Passes Slowly – Photographs And More, is an “Exclusive Deluxe-Bound Book” of 127 pages of rare and unseen photographs, as well as magazine covers and sleeve art from worldwide Dylan releases.

The first 5,000 customers ordering from the Bob Dylan online store also received a fine poster promoting the original release of Self Portrait.

Bob Dylan Bootleg Series Deluxe box sets: Vol. 11 The Basement Tapes Complete, Limited Deluxe Edition

With Vol. 11 The Basement Tapes Complete, a “Limited Deluxe Edition” of 6CDs, Columbia Legacy perfected the deluxe edition format. And hit the mother lode, commercially and creatively. Sony’s bean counters must have been as pleased as the legions of Dylanistas.

Steve Berkowitz, Sony’s Co-Producer for the whole series, claims that The Basement Tapes is the most sought-after bootleg in all rock music.  He’s absolutely right: gems from The Basement Tapes kick-started the (unofficial) bootleg industry nearly 50 years ago.  It has engaged hardcore rock fans ever since.

Bob Dylan Bootleg Series deluxe box sets

The Basement Tapes Complete (Deluxe Edition)

Vol. 11 The Basement Tapes Complete sets a new benchmark for deluxe back catalogue product.  The musical content of The Basement Tapes Complete is so important, so revelatory, that Columbia Legacy could probably have sold the CDs in plain paper bags, without any embellishment. To their credit, they created a very high spec package, too.

The slipcase holds two books. The one holding the six CDs has the liner notes, with several long features including a nine-page essay by Dylan guru Clinton Heylin on the origins of the recordings. The cover has the original Reid Miles artwork from the 1975 album release, with Dylan pretending to play a mandolin. (The same cover is used on the standard-sized booklet of the 2CD “Raw” version of Vol. 11.)

The second book in the package, Lo & Behold: Photographs & More has exquisite photos by Elliott Landy, as well as pictures of tape reels, record sleeves and magazine covers. The “exclusive 120 page deluxe-bound book containing rare and unseen photographs and memorabilia” is a beauty, a very desirable bonus.

If I were to buy only one of the Bob Dylan Bootleg Series Deluxe box sets, it would be The Basement Tapes, because of its essential, often unheard, music and fine packaging. In my view, it’s the Deluxe Edition with most added value.

Bob Dylan Bootleg Series Deluxe box sets: Vol. 12 The Cutting Edge Deluxe Edition

The music of The Cutting Edge is an alternative history of Peak Dylan, out-takes from his top three albums, all recorded in a whirlwind of creative genius in a short period in the mid-1960s.

The Deluxe Edition’s six CDs consist of alt versions of songs that were immortalised on the trio of albums, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde On Blonde. One disc is devoted entirely to different versions of Like A Rolling Stone.

Bob Dylan Bootleg Series deluxe box sets

The Cutting Edge Deluxe Edition

Alone among the Bob Dylan Bootleg Series Deluxe box sets, The Cutting Edge gives you an entrée into Dylan’s creative process, as he chops and changes between different tempi, instrumentation, arrangements and lyrics.

The packaging follows the by-now-familiar deluxe format: slipcase, two hardback books, one with liner notes and the CDs, the other a collection of Bob Dylan photos. The first book is a bigger version of the liner notes booklet issued with the 2CD version and the bonus  book is the 120-page Mixing Up the Medicine: Photographs and More.

Having cemented the high value deluxe format with The Cutting Edge, Sony pushed the envelope again with an ultra deluxe edition, pitched at an atmospheric price point. The Collector’s Edition 18CD version was released in a numbered limited edition of 5,000, complete with the package number on the Certificate of Authenticity, and only available from the official Bob Dylan website.

Packaged in an attractive, hefty box, the Collector’s Edition comes complete with the two books of the Deluxe Edition (though Mixing Up the Medicine: Photographs and More is longer – 170pp).

Its massive collection of 18 CDs is housed in a third “book”. The product is enhanced by memorabilia, including nine x 7″ vinyl mono singles, housed in repro paper sleeves; a piece of celluloid with a few random frames from Don’t Look Back; and semi-transparent item separators featuring artwork promoting the mid-1960s releases.

The music of Bob Dylan has always been at the centre of music biz innovation: Great White Wonder kick-started the bootlegging revolution.  The Bootleg Series created a new “official” product category.  The Bootleg Series Vol. 8 opened up a higher value niche.  Vol. 12 Collector’s Edition has kick-started yet another segment of the market, for very high value product.

Bob Dylan Bootleg Series Deluxe box sets: desirable?  Value for money?  A worthwhile investment?

So, are the Bob Dylan Bootleg Series Deluxe box sets desirable?

Yes: very desirable, both as beautifully designed artefacts and as collections of music.  They have found a ready market among Dylan devotees.  Some are more desirable than others, of course.  My favourites are Vols. 11 and 12.

Good value for money?  Deluxe Vol. 8 was released at the new high price to a chorus of outrage. But it quickly sold out. Subsequent releases contain rather more added value.  The Bob Dylan Bootleg Series Deluxe box sets are affordable.

Value is in the eye of the beholder: if you think these box sets will give you pleasure, you’ll probably buy them.

But are they a worthwhile investment?  How likely are they to rise in value?

One or two might.  The first of the Bob Dylan Bootleg Series deluxe box sets – Vol. 8, Tell Tale Signs – has (limited) potential for growth – because it was released as a “limited edition”. Since its 2008 launch, it has roughly doubled in value. But only to about £160, according to the Discogs website. Hardly an “investment”, unless you risked buying a few cratefuls at discount on release!

It’s difficult to see increases in value in the deluxe editions of the other volumes, certainly not while you can still buy them new, from major retailers.  They’re not my idea of a worthwhile investment.

The Collector’s Edition of Vol. 12 is a true limited edition – Sony pegged the edition size at 5,000 copies and indicated that it would never be exceeded. As it’s a definitive record of Peak Dylan music, as well as a very fine artefact, I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t appreciate in value.

Conclusions: Bob Dylan Bootleg Series deluxe box sets are desirable and reasonably good value, but they have limited investment potential.

Fans are eagerly awaiting the release of many more volumes in the Bob Dylan Bootleg Series. Most will buy the standard 2CD versions, but a growing number will switch to the Deluxe Editions. And I’d guess Columbia Legacy will roll out the ultra deluxe format of Vol. 12 Collector’s Edition: expect more very high-priced limited editions.

Columbia Legacy/Sony Music Entertainment are outstanding curators of Dylan’s legacy. Their Bob Dylan Bootleg Series Deluxe box sets are fine luxury products. Though it’s unfashionable to heap praise on record industry “suits”, I raise my glass to Sony’s long-term Bootleg Series Co-Producer, Steve Berkowitz.

Copyright of this article, Bob Dylan Bootleg Series Deluxe box sets: text © Gerald Smith, Rock Art Editions, pictures © Columbia Legacy/Sony Music Entertainment. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

Bob Dylan art: Brazil Series prints – second release, 2015

The Bob Dylan art portfolio – accessible to Everyman – just keeps on growing.

The latest release – a second trio of prints from the Brazil Series – was recently launched into what looks like a receptive market.

Bob Dylan art, Brazil Series, Wagon Master

Wagon Master from the Brazil Series, © Bob Dylan 2010

Bob Dylan art: three new Brazil Series prints

The new limited edition prints reproduce three paintings – Grande Arvore Beachfront, Wagon Master and Favela Villa Candido.  They continue the themes introduced by the first three Brazil Series prints, released in May 2015.

Grande Arvore Beachfront and Wagon Master are, like the first three prints, narratives documenting ordinary lives. The new Favela print, best described as a townscape, is similar to that in the earlier release.

The three signed prints are available individually and as a Portfolio Set of three.

Bob Dylan Brazil Series: accomplished, realistic

The new Brazil Series prints are an accomplished trio, likely to raise Bob Dylan’s stature as an artist among critics and potential buyers alike.  The works are technically proficient: Bob Dylan’s draughtsmanship, questioned by some on the release of his Drawn Blank series, is no longer an issue.

And their more realistic style will reassure those discomfited by the Expressionism of Dylan’s Drawn Blank works.

The three new prints, giclee on paper, with an image size of 30″ x 26″, cost £1500 each (framed).  The Portfolio Set of 3 is priced at £3500.

When I last checked (in early November), the new signed, limited edition prints seemed to be selling quickly.  After only a couple of weeks on sale, Castle Galleries (linked to publisher Washington Green) had sold out.  Indie galleries in the distribution network were also reporting low stock levels.

Bob Dylan art: how the new Brazil Series prints fit in

The latest Brazil Series prints follow a May 2015 release of three different prints.  They are the latest examples of a growing body of visual art by the septuagenarian musician.  Make no mistake – Bob Dylan is a prolific artist.  His creativity has found expression – so far – in no fewer than ten different series, outlined in an earlier article,  here.

Bob Dylan art: are the new Brazil Series prints worth collecting?

Potential buyers usually ask two questions of a piece of art: how good is it?  And how much is it worth?  My opinion?  Regarding these three prints: they’re fine, enjoyable pictures, although I prefer the key works from Drawn Blank, notably Man On A Bridge (2008).   And you’ll only know how much they’re really worth in a few years, when they start appearing in the secondary market.

To buy or not to buy?  In the end, of course, it’s a very personal decision.  If you need help before taking that decision, you might find it handy to consider this article from ROCK ART EDITIONS.

Bob Dylan art: the low-cost Brazil Series option – the catalogue

If you’re keen to explore or own Bob Dylan art from the Brazil Series but are not in the market for these new prints, remember that the excellent catalogue (published by Prestel) of all 40 Brazil Series paintings exhibited at the Statens Museum for Kunst, Kopenhagen in 2010/2011, is widely available, often at a knockdown price.

Bob Dylan art - The Brazil Series Copenhagen exhibition catalogue 2010

Exhibition Catalogue © Bob Dylan/Museum for Kunst/Prestel 2010

Copyright: Wagon Master print © Bob Dylan 2010/2015; book cover © Prestel 2011; text © Gerald Smith, ROCK ART EDITIONS 2015.  Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

Bob Dylan poster by Milton Glaser: at auction this week

 

Bob Dylan poster by Milton Glaser

Bob Dylan poster by Milton Glaser, © Milton Glaser 1966

A copy of the celebrated Bob Dylan poster by Milton Glaser is being auctioned this week by New York specialists Poster Auctions International, via Invaluable.

The Bob Dylan poster – one of the finest pieces of rock art available to man  – was produced by Milton Glaser in 1966, at the peak of the singer’s creative powers.

Here are the details of the Bob Dylan poster from Invaluable:

invaluable for Poster Auctions International, Lot 313, NYC 16 Oct

Estimated Price: $1,200 – $1,500

Description: Artist: MILTON GLASER (1929- ) Size: 22 x 32 3/4 in./55.6 x 83.4 cm Originally included in Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits-Volume 1 album on vinyl, this image of the singer is possibly Glaser’s most iconic design. When speaking of it, the artist mentions being influenced by Duchamps and Islamic paintings, resulting in “a style some now consider peculiarly American” (Glaser, p. 50).

Condition Report: A/ Usual fold marks.  Dimensions: 22 x 32 3/4 in./55.6 x 83.4 cm.  Artist or Maker: MILTON GLASER (1929- ).  Medium: Poster.  Date: 1966.

Bob Dylan comic books: three little-known rarities

Bob Dylan comic books

Bob Dylan comic books: Rock N’ Roll Comics #50 © Revolutionary Comics 1992

The three Bob Dylan comic books published in the Rock N’ Roll Comics series in 1992 are pretty rare.  And they are little-known: I stumbled across them for the first time a month ago – nearly a quarter of a century after they were published.

Bob Dylan comic books are a growing niche, increasingly popular among Dylan collectors. Most of the recent titles are best described as graphic biographies. They are modern, hardback, long-form books, rather than the traditional thin, paper bound magazines like Rock N’ Roll Comics.

Rock N’ Roll Comics pioneered a cartoon approach to their biographies of musicians, including their three on Bob Dylan.  They were an imprint of Revolutionary Comics (slogan: “Unauthorized and proud of it”) of San Diego, California. The company also published comic book series on pop music and sport, notably baseball. Sadly, it went out of business in 1994.

As a collector of Dylan books, I bought the three Bob Dylan comic books because I was intrigued to find out whether mixing genres – applying the avowedly lowbrow Batman-type treatment to a serious subject like Dylan – would work.  It does.

These three comic books are rare – and little-known – certainly to this English collector. They are delightful artefacts – collectable Bob Dylan art at a cut-down price.

All three Bob Dylan comic books in the series were written by Jay Allen Sanford and illustrated by Blackwell. Scott Pentzer painted the cover of #50; it’s not clear who did the other two covers.

Bob Dylan comic books #1: Kingdom Come (1961-1965)

Bob Dylan, Part One: Kingdom Come (1961-1965), Rock N’ Roll Comics #50, August 1992 tells the story well of peak period Dylan.  And it has the most striking cover (above) of the three.

Bob Dylan comic books #2: The Jester’s Thorny Crown (1966-1976)

Bob Dylan comic books

Bob Dylan comic books: Rock N’ Roll Comics #51 © Revolutionary Comics 1992

Bob Dylan, Part Two: The Jester’s Thorny Crown (1966-1976), Rock N’ Roll Comics #51, Sept 1992 handles a complex decade of Dylan’s development with assurance. To my eyes, its cover is the weakest of the three.

Bob Dylan comic books #3: Hard Rain A Comin’

Bob Dylan, Part Three: Hard Rain A Comin’, Rock N’ Roll Comics #52, Oct 1992, the concluding part of the Bob Dylan comic books trilogy, is my least favourite.  But it’s still good enough to make you wish for a sequel to bring the story up to date.

The cover of #52 has a wistful, middle-aged Bob, looking perplexed, staring into the distance. You’ll probably know where it originated.

Bob Dylan comic books

Bob Dylan comic books: Rock N’ Roll Comics #52, © Revolutionary Comics 1992

Bob Dylan comic books: overview

These three comic books are worthwhile additions to any Bob Dylan art library: as a collector, I’m pleased to have acquired them.

The Rock N’ Roll Comics concept – comics for grown-up music fans – is both ambitious and compelling. It elevates the art of the comic book above the pulp level aimed at children or poor adult readers. The comic books tackle serious subjects, give them context and present them in a format which will satisfy even the demanding reader.

You could take the view that, judged against the best books on the musician, these Bob Dylan comic books are relatively weak – presenting a slightly juvenile, dumbed-down version of the Dylan story.  But judged on their own terms, as cheap pulp non-fiction extolling a cult figure revered by a cult audience, they work well.

Bob Dylan comic books: the words

The comics’ texts give you a reasonable summary of a (then) 30-year career, covering many key aspects of the musician’s life and achievements.

The device of inserting “Chronolog” sidebars on each page enriches the Dylan narrative – they contextualise his creativity through a (US-centric) diary of what else was happening at the time.

The text of the comic books isn’t the strongest, however.  The dialogue doesn’t always flow like natural speech. And there’s the odd factual error – Dylan’s 1962 trip to London to record Madhouse on Castle Street was for a BBC TV show (not a radio show, as claimed).

Spelling errors occasionally pop out – “wierd”, “recieved”, “disguarded”, “course-ground”… .

Bob Dylan comic books: the pictures

The best illustrations in the three books are impressive. I enjoyed the quartet of startled folkies realising that they’d stumbled into a rock show at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.

Overall, though, the illustrations are a mixed bag. Bob Dylan can often seem like a different person from page to page. And you occasionally need the text to work out that you’re looking at The Beatles… Mick Jagger… The Band… .

The art doesn’t match the excellence of the three comic books reviewed here a few weeks ago.

But comic books in general have moved on since 1992. Series like Rock N’ Roll Comics were necessarily produced at a great lick, to tight deadlines.  More modern comic book creators can lavish more attention and take longer over their work.  Hence, the books cost more to produce.  And are more expensive.

The cover artwork of the three Bob Dylan comics is variable. The first cover of the trio (#50), head and shoulders of Dylan looking arrogant, smoking, with a background of him walking the streets, somewhat wistfully, is my favourite.  Number 51 is the weakest. Number 52 is an attractive reworking of the album cover of Under The Red Sky.

This rarely seen trio of Bob Dylan comic books is both desirable and collectable.

It’s complemented by issues in the series covering several key rock bands, notably The Rolling Stones (#6), Led Zeppelin (#13), The Doors (#26 and 27) and The Grateful Dead.

If you know of similar Bob Dylan comic books from other publishers, please share your expert knowledge with readers of ROCK ART EDITIONS – Leave a reply at the top of this post. Thanks in advance,

Copyright: Rock N’ Roll Comics covers #50, #51 and #52 © Revolutionary Comics 1992; photos © Gerald Smith, ROCK ART EDITIONS 2015; text © Gerald Smith, ROCK ART EDITIONS 2015. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

Bob Dylan art: the Brazil Series – three new signed, limited edition prints

Bob Dylan art: The Brazil Series

Bob Dylan art – Favela Villa Broncos, The Brazil Series © Bob Dylan/Castle Galleries 2015

Bob Dylan art is ever more accessible.

Castle Galleries, publishers of the Bob Dylan Drawn Blank Series, have just released three signed, limited edition prints from a new collection, Bob Dylan The Brazil Series.

The three images, Medium format in giclee on paper, are: Ranchers and Boxing Gym (both portrait, 15.5″ x 23.5″) and Favela Villa Broncos (landscape, 24″ x 18″).  They are £1,110 each, unframed/£1,250 each, framed.

They’re also available as a portfolio of three prints (£2,950).  All four products are signed and come in numbered limited editions of 295.

Bob Dylan art: The Brazil Series – background

Following The Drawn Blank Series, Bob Dylan art changed direction, with a very different looking collection, The Brazil Series.  The Brazil pictures are bolder, more sombre examples of Bob Dylan art – 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) was exhibited at Museum for Kunst, Kopenhagen, National Gallery of Denmark, September 2010-February 2011.

Bob Dylan art - The Brazil Series Copenhagen exhibition catalogue 2010

Exhibition Catalogue © Bob Dylan/Museum for Kunst, Kopenhagen/Prestel 2010

The catalogue for Bob Dylan The Brazil Series has nearly 50 images – 80% were displayed in the Copenhagen exhibition. The hardback catalogue – highly recommended – has been popping up for some time in remainder shops: I spotted a pile in Oxford’s The Last Bookshop, discounted to £3 each, last October.

You can see where The Brazil Series fits within the growing body of Bob Dylan art in this ROCK ART EDITIONS guide to his first ten series.

The Brazil Series prints are available online from Castle Galleries, selected outlets in its High St chain (eg Cardiff and Cambridge) and some independent art retailers such as Hawthorn Gallery, in Stalybridge, Cheshire.

Coming soon on ROCK ART EDITIONS: Bob Dylan art: The Brazil Series – to buy or not to buy?

 

Copyright: images Bob Dylan and Castle Galleries, Museum for Kunst, Kopenhagen/Prestel; text Gerald Smith, ROCK ART EDITIONS.  Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

 

 

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 hits Main St: Shadows in the Night promo is unmissable

Bob Dylan album cover, Shadows in the Night

Bob Dylan art, Paris Metro: Shadows In The Night promo © Gerald Smith 2015

Bob Dylan art – images by and featuring Dylan – has been readily viewable on the web since the internet first became part of our lives.

Bob Dylan art has now hit Main Street, too.

The promo for Shadows in the Night, the new Dylan album, is virtually unmissable. City dwellers can now enjoy Bob Dylan art at street level, as part of the daily routine.

I spent last Saturday in Paris. The promo for Shadows in the Night was ubiquitous – it seemed to be everywhere. Posters, newspaper and magazine covers, in-store display/album play, radio play… . You just couldn’t avoid Dylan in the Left Bank/Montparnasse quartiers of Paris last Saturday.

Even after being reminded by Bob Dylan Inc for the entire afternoon that their man has new product to shift, I was still stunned by the Bob Dylan art exhibition awaiting me as I travelled on the Metro (aka Underground… subway…) back to my hotel.

Bob Dylan art exhibition: Duroc Metro station, Paris

The subterranean corridor linking lines 10 and 13 of Metro station Duroc had been transformed into a gallery of Bob Dylan art. As you’ll see from my photograph, above, the entire wall of one side of the tunnel was taken up by five – yes, five – large posters, side by side, of the Shadows in the Night album cover.

The album cover artwork, designed by Geoff Gans, impressive in CD size, looks even better in large-format poster size. The front cover portrait by John Shearer has Bob Dylan in an appropriately pensive moment; the blue and black colours reinforce the mood. I wonder, though, why Dylan appears caged, trapped behind bars, in a black space.

As for interpreting the CD’s intriguing back cover photograph, maybe I’ll get a clue after spending some quality time listening more carefully to the album.

I was puzzled by the promo text on the Paris posters, though: “Nouvel album: Sortie le 3 fevrier” (“… released on 3 February”, ie the following Tuesday, the same day as the US release date). Puzzled because the album had clearly been released by Saturday – I’d just been enjoying the displays and listening to the entirety of Shadows in the Night in Gibert Joseph and FNAC, the two major Paris music retailers.

Record industry embargoes on new music product are strictly enforced in England. Maybe things are more relaxed in France and other markets?

The Paris Metro posters are a tiny fragment of Bob Dylan art in public places – a fragment that I just happen to have noticed. But there are countless other examples of Bob Dylan art out there – posters promoting Shadows in the Night, portraits of Bob Dylan on magazine covers and newspaper front pages… .

Have you come across any examples of Bob Dylan art on a Main Street where you live? Please share them by Leaving a Reply, preferably with a link to an image, at the top of this post.

Bob Dylan art is everywhere: thanks in advance for sharing it.

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?

New Bob Dylan lyrics book – The Lyrics Since 1962: deeply impressive, slightly perplexing

New Bob Dylan lyrics book in limited edition

Bob Dylan The Lyrics Since 1962, Simon & Schuster, 2014

The new Bob Dylan lyrics book – Bob Dylan The Lyrics Since 1962 – is deeply impressive. It’s a real heavyweight, physically as well as metaphorically.  Its sheer bulk took me by surprise when I received my copy two days ago.

The rich binding, the quality of the paper and the precision printing make Bob Dylan The Lyrics Since 1962 a fitting artefact to showcase some of the finest writing in the English language from the last hundred years.

The inclusion of album cover artwork, variant lyrics from live performance, and detailed annotations by Christopher Ricks enhance a product that would be a triumph even without them.

Negatives?  Hard to find.  I’ve yet to scrutinise the content, but, judging it as an object, my only (minor) criticism of the new Bob Dylan lyrics book is that the cover design is a bit weak, considering the majestic content.

Late delivery of new Bob Dylan lyrics book

I’m slightly perplexed, though, by the late delivery of Bob Dylan The Lyrics Since 1962.  When I ordered on 10 October, Amazon UK told me to expect delivery by 13-15 November.  Then on 15 November, they informed me that the book had been “unexpectedly delayed” and that I should expect delivery by 19 December (ie today).

I know that publishers Simon & Schuster supplied orders to distributors for the original October/November publication dates, both in the USA and in Britain.  I wonder why they had to delay supplying orders like mine?  Production or distribution problems, I’d guess.

At the time of writing, Bob Dylan The Lyrics Since 1962 is in very short supply – hardly surprising for a limited edition of only 3,000.  Amazon dot com were advertising copies a few hours ago, at $179.40, heavily discounted from the newly raised price of $300.  If it’s still for sale when you check, I’d suggest you order immediately.

No such luck from other possible suppliers – publishers Simon & Schuster, Amazon UK and Deutschland and Isis magazine were all out of stock of the new Bob Dylan lyrics book when I checked late on Thursday night (18 December).

If you’ve missed this highly prized special edition of Bob Dylan The Lyrics Since 1962, all is not lost – you’ll be able to buy the mass market edition, scheduled for 3 November 2015, though I’d wager that that publication date will be brought forward.

Bob Dylan art: worth collecting? A good investment? The Drawn Blank Series 2008-2014

Bob Dylan art

Woman in Red Lion Pub, Man On A Bridge, Train Tracks: stars of Bob Dylan The Drawn Blank Series 2008-2014

Is Bob Dylan art worth collecting?

Yes.  To be precise, some Bob Dylan art is worth collecting.

Is Bob Dylan art also a good investment?  Yes, it can be – but you need to know exactly what you’re buying.

Bob Dylan The Drawn Blank Series 2008-2014

You get a fair idea which Bob Dylan art is worth collecting and/or a good investment at Bob Dylan The Drawn Blank Series 2008-2014, an impressive – and revealing – retrospective exhibition running at Castle Fine Art, 24 Bruton Street, London W1 until 29 November.  It’s well worth a journey – you can spend a couple of enjoyable hours there.

Bob Dylan art

Bob Dylan art, Drawn Blank Series 2008-14, London W1

Bob Dylan art: worth collecting?

Not all Drawn Blank prints were created equal. Bob Dylan paintings first appeared at an exhibition at Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz in 2007-2008. Chemnitz is a small city west of Dresden – a fairly remote place in the former DDR, hence an ideal venue for Bob Dylan to test the waters with his painting.

Bob Dylan art

Bob Dylan The Drawn Blank Series, Chemnitz exhibition catalogue

The 92 sketches in Drawn Blank, Dylan’s 1994 book, were transformed into 322 different gouache and watercolour images, from which the 170 works exhibited at Chemnitz were selected.

A few of these paintings were also used for Washington Green’s first (2008) release of limited edition prints, but most of the publisher’s images appear to be slightly different gouache and water colour tableaux developed from the 1994 drawings.

How many of the 300 or so works in The Drawn Blank Series you’d want to see on your wall is a subjective matter.  There’s a few dozen pieces that I’d be happy to hang alongside those of more critically acclaimed artists featured in ROCK ART EDITIONS, such as Richard Hamilton, Andy Warhol and Peter Blake.

I’d consider buying about another third of the prints. But I struggle to enthuse over the rest of the works in Bob Dylan The Drawn Blank Series.

As I argued in a recent post on ROCK ART EDITIONS, I find The Drawn Blank Series 2014 to be a mixed bag. I love three of the eight images released, including a new colour version of Woman In Red Lion Pub, a familiar favourite. The other five? They don’t do it for me.

Bob Dylan art: a good investment?

In addition to judging Bob Dylan art as a collector, potential investors will also assess the work for its potential future growth in value.

Let’s start by considering three star performers in the current Castle Fine Art exhibition. If, on release in 2008, you’d bought Medium (36″ x 28″) versions of Man On A Bridge, Woman in Red Lion Pub and Train Tracks (photograph above), at £1,995 each (unframed), you would already be looking at a substantial capital gain: they are valued in this exhibition at £12,850, £12,850 and £15,350 respectively – a total of over £41,000, for an outlay of under £6,000.

But remember – that’s the value of these three limited editions from the 2008 release in the Medium size. Other releases and sizes of the same images haven’t performed as well. For example, the Standard (ie smaller, 27.5″ x 22″) Man On A Bridge and Woman in Red Lion Pub from the 2011 release are priced at £3,750, with the 2012 Man release at £2,750.

And remember – these prices are quoted by a gallery allied to the publisher of The Drawn Blank Series, a gallery trying to sell the whole collection. So these exhibition prices should be regarded as indicative, rather than definitive.  Establishing a more accurate open market value for these three prints would require an analysis of pricing and sales data from independent dealers, eBay and, notably, the major auction houses.

This trio of images – Man On A Bridge, Woman in Red Lion Pub and Train Tracks – are, arguably, the pick of the Drawn Blank crop. They are very desirable artefacts to own and hang on your wall, but you need to carefully consider their investment potential.

Bob Dylan art

Bob Dylan Drawn Blank Series: three Portfolios, 2008

The Portfolios – in this case, packages of different versions of the same image – are probably not as good investments as the individual prints.  For example, the Standard sized 2008 Portfolio of four versions of Train Tracks 2008 is now priced at £28,500, while the 2008 Portfolio of four Man On A Bridge prints is on sale here for £13,500, almost the same price as the Medium 2008 individual graphic.

Bob Dylan limited editions – how limited?

How limited is a Bob Dylan limited edition print?

Take the wonderful Man On a Bridge as an example, again. The original 2008 Medium print – the one which has soared in value – was produced in a limited edition of 295 – a very acceptable limit to the edition.

Bob Dylan art

Bob Dylan, Man On A Bridge 2008

But those 295 aren’t the end of the story. The image has also been released in different colours, different sizes, different packages and different media between 2008 and 2014.

Only 295 of Medium size Man On a Bridge prints (the high value one) were released in 2008. But count the copies released in the different versions, add those sold in sets and complete collections, not to mention Artist’s Prints and Printer’s Prints, and you begin to realise that “limited edition” is an elastic concept.

A quick calculation indicates that there are over 3,000 officially released copies of Man On A Bridge in the wild right now. And who knows how many more releases the piece will see?

You could, of course, argue that an aggregate edition of a few thousand is no barrier to purchasing a Bob Dylan artefact as an investment. After all, the recent Bob Dylan The Lyrics Since 1962 was released in a limited edition of 3,000. That seemed to me like an unnecessarily small edition, probably a commercial miscalculation by publishers Simon and Schuster, and I ordered my copy without a second thought.

Despite a relentless programme of annual releases since 2008, only a proportion of the images shown at Chemnitz or, indeed, catalogued by Washington Green in their handsome 2008 monograph, have been released so far. Many owners will be hoping that the weaker prints offered for sale in 2014 might indicate that the well is running dry.

Artist and publisher are, of course, within their rights to keep releasing new Drawn Blank Series artwork for as long as there is unsatisfied demand from collectors and investors.

Bob Dylan art: original Drawn Blank Series paintings

In addition to the limited edition prints, within the reach of most potential buyers, many of the original paintings (from which the limited editions were printed) were put on sale from 2008.

You’d expect them to be mostly sold. Many are reportedly valued in the low hundreds of thousands of pounds. An acrylic Man On A Bridge, wearing a fetching brown-grey coat, on display at the Castle Fine Art exhibition, has a six-figure price tag.

And whether the 300+ originals prepared for Chemnitz have been – or will be – sold is unknown. They could double the number of original, high value Drawn Blank artworks in circulation.

Do your research, get safeguards

If you are tempted to buy a piece of Bob Dylan art from this series, your first step might be to work out exactly why you want to buy it: would you be buying as a fan? A collector? Or an investor?

Whatever your motive, you need to do some homework: information is available to help you reduce risk – in exhibition and sales catalogues, as well as online resources.

Once you’ve decided to buy a piece, you need to check that it’s genuine. You’ll insist on a certificate of authenticity, and reliable information on the artwork’s provenance. You’re obviously safest with an established outlet in the Castle Galleries chain, or one of the independent UK galleries supplied with stock by publishers Washington Green.

But, beyond these outlets, it’s a good bet that there will be fake Dylan prints doing the rounds already: thieves abound on the fringes of the art world and the Dylan Universe. They target mugs who don’t know what they’re buying.

Caveat emptor!

Bob Dylan art: how good is it?

To summarise: some Bob Dylan art from The Drawn Blank Series 2008-2014 is probably a good investment. But do your homework before you buy.

If you’re buying a print from Bob Dylan The Drawn Blank Series purely for pleasure, you’ll have a piece of Bob Dylan hanging on your wall, complete with signature – even if it drops in value.

And make no mistake: the Drawn Blank Series 2008-2014 exhibition underlines Bob Dylan’s credentials as an artist to be taken seriously.  His portraits and cityscapes are particularly engaging.  Like Dylan songs, the paintings are clearly the work of an acute observer.  Many of these pictures reinforce Dylan’s standing as a non-pareil poet of the everyday, one who detects multiple meanings in the mundane.

Bob Dylan The Drawn Blank Series 2008-2014 reveals a body of work with a singular vision, expressed in a unique style.  To my mind, the best work in this collection positions Bob Dylan alongside the German Expressionists.

Am I biased?  Certainly: Bob Dylan and visual art are two of my central life interests. To see them combined, as in the best work in Bob Dylan The Drawn Blank Series 2018-2014, leaves me truly smitten.

Seven years ago, there was very little Bob Dylan art around – the drawings in the 1994 book, earlier sketches in Writings and Drawings and its mid-1980s update, and a modicum of album cover artwork. The world now seems awash with Dylan artwork.

Bob Dylan art

Bob Dylan, Drawn Blank, Random House, 1994

For this, collectors and investors are indebted to Ingrid Mossinger of Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, who realised that the sketches in Drawn Blank (1994) could be transformed into an impressive, extensive collection of paintings.

And to publishers Washington Green who saw the commercial opportunity presented at the Chemnitz exhibition, and made Bob Dylan art accessible to most citizens of the developed world.

Washington Green have an excellent online catalogue of Bob Dylan The Drawn Blank Series 2008-2014.

All images © Bob Dylan/Washington Green 2014, except Chemnitz catalogue © Prestel 2007, and Drawn Blank © Random House 1994.

Disclaimer: if you are considering buying art from The Drawn Blank Series, please see the disclaimer on the About ROCK ART EDITIONS page.