Tag Archives: Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz

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: 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.