Critics Say Bob Dylan Paintings Mirror Famous Photographs

  • September 29, 2011 19:17

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Left: Bob Dylan's "Opium," (2009) Right: A photograph by Léon Busy, taken in Vietnam in 1915
Left: Gagosian Gallery / Right: Courtesy of Museé d'Albert Kahn

Singer-songwriter Bob Dylan's first ever New York gallery exhibition has come under scrutiny as critics have denounced some of his work as painted copies of famous photographs.

"The Asia Series," at the Gagosian Gallery on Madison Ave. through Oct. 22, includes works that Dylan said were created from "real life" on trips to Japan, China, Vietnam and South Korea. The paintings on view include "firsthand depictions of people, street scenes, architecture and landscape," according to a gallery press release.

But critics say more than half of the 18 paintings on view seem to be derived from known photographs. Some of the photographs still are copyrighted, and six are reported to be from a Flickr account, while others are historic.

Among them, Dylan's scene of two men remarkably resembles a photograph taken by Henri Cartier-Bresson in 1948. His "Opium," of a Vietnamese girl lying on the floor, looks much like a Léon Busy photograph from 1915.

"While the composition of some of Bob Dylan's paintings is based on a variety of sources, including archival, historic images, the paintings' vibrancy and freshness come from the colors and textures found in everyday scenes he observed during his travels," a Gagosian representative told the New York Times.

The Gagosian acknowledged in a release that some of Dylan's work drew from other artists' work such as "...‘LeBelle Cascade,’ which looks like a riff on Manet’s ‘Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe’ but which is, in fact, a scenographic tourist photo-opportunity in a Tokyo amusement arcade.”


Read more at International Business Times

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