“What would I draw? Well, I guess I would start with whatever was at hand …. Not that I thought that I was any great drawer, but I did feel like I was putting an orderliness to the chaos around… In a strange way I noticed that it purified the experience of my eye.” – Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is one of the most legendary singer/songwriters of our time; born in Minnesota in 1941, Robert Allen Zimmerman, as he was then known. His songs such as Blowin’ in the Wind and The Times They Are a-Changin’ became anthems for civil rights and anti-war movements.
Dylan has also been painting since the 1960s, but concealed this aspect of his creativity until it was publically exhibited for the first time in 2007, with the exhibition of The Drawn Blank Series being held in Chemnitz, Germany. In 2010-11 The Brazil Series was exhibited at the Statens Museum, Copenhagen; and The Asia Series and Revisionist Art: Thirty Works by Bob Dylan were showcased at Gagosian New York in 2011 and 2013, respectively; and several other critically acclaimed exhibitions in the years including his New Orleans series at the Palazzo Reale in Milan in April 2013.
Since the public became aware of his art, it has grown in increasing popularity – his subjects inspired by travels and stories; many find his paintings as intoxicating as his songs.
His Painting Evolution
Dylan, for the most part, has been self-taught as a painter; but his varied palette and compositions are often very sophisticated, informed by his myriad experiences, his own learning, and the troves of art he has vicariously absorbed over the years. Critics believe that not only is his art of interest because of the “myth” imbued in it being made by Dylan, the pleasant colour contrast, and considered, balanced compositions; but that as he continues to hone his craft he is “becoming technically much more proficient” too.
Dylan has a tendency to use bold colours and tones in his paintings, he is also prone to creating different versions of the same image such as Train Tracks which has multiple renditions in different hues. This technique of varied repetitions in different versions of the same subject allows the artist to express a dynamic variety of evolving feelings and emotions. However as he evolves as a painter, we see him us relying less on colour to tell a story such as Dance Hall afrom the New Orleans series.
His style could be interpreted as neo-Impressionism, with its flurry of brush strokes illuminating it’s subjects. He has even been compared to American Impressionist William Woodward – however, Dylan’s primary concern is for each viewer of his art is to have their own personal perception of his art
Dylan’s art isn’t limited solely to paintings like Man On A Bridge (pictured), he has created silk-screen pop art prints, collages, and welded sculptures.
Wherever Dylan is, or whatever, or whoever, he is painting, he takes his subject matter seriously – whether it be a place, a house or a human, he explores the subject through his paintings.
The themes he covers are similar to those he has become so well loved for in his music; those of race, politics, love, sex and the blues – honest (if at times a little controversial) pictorial renditions of the real Americana, or the world through the eye of an old country American.
The Drawn Blank Series
The Drawn Blank Series originally started as a collection of drawings and black and white sketches Dylan made while touring America, Europe and Asia between 1989 and 1992. These were first published in a book in 1994 under the title Drawn Blank Series by Random House. Dylan then re-worked them into vibrant and expressive paintings.
In 2007, it was the Chemnitz, Germany that came to Dylan with the concept of expanding on those sketches, enlarging them and rendering them in colour – which he did.
His Most Expensive Paintings
Dylan’s artwork varies hugely in price, depending on if it is a painting, an original print or a run of many; a sculpture or highly prized early work. For example, the Standard sized 2008 Portfolio of four versions of Train Tracks 2008 is now priced at £28,500; but some of his paintings have been valued at up to $400,000, almost £280,000.
Man On A Bridge, Woman in Red Lion Pub and Train Tracks were valued in at £12,850, £12,850 and £15,350 respectively two years ago. However, limited edition prints of sketches can be snapped up for around £1,600.