Dylan Paints America

Writer-Artist 11: Bob Dylan

bob dylan paints america by @DFriedmanAuthor #Drawings #Artists #Writers

“The idea was to create pictures that would not be misinterpreted.”

A 20th century icon, winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature, 12 Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, and a special Pulitzer Prize, Bob Dylan has been making art since recovering from a motorcycle accident in the 60’s, has published seven books of his drawings and paintings.  Now represented by Gagosian, Halcyon, Canvas and other galleries here and abroad, his work was not publicly exhibited until 2007 when an exhibition of “The Drawn Blank Series” was held in Chemnitz, Germany, followed by “The Brazil Series” at the Statens Museum, Copenhagen, in 2010–11. Most recently, London’s Halcyon Gallery did a show of American landscapes and the November 2016 issue of Vanity Fair ran a lengthy essay by Dylan about it. The train tracks image displayed here is from that show and comes courtesy of Canvas Gallery. The quoted excerpts are from that essay.

The Inspiration

“For this series of paintings,” wrote Dylan, “the idea was to create pictures that would not be misinterpreted or misunderstood by me or anybody else.” In this, Dylan reminds us that pictures particularize, while words do not impose one visible form.  When Dylan sings of “blood on the tracks” or a “shanty by the railroad track” we use our individual imaginations to embody the image. But these are specifically Dylan’s tracks.

“All the iconography,” he adds, “is used in a semi-conscious way. I chose images because of the meanings they have for me, and patterns can be seen in the repeating images—roads, shacks, piers, automobiles, streets, bayous, railroad tracks, bridges, motels, truck stops, power lines, farmyards, theater marquees, churches, signs and symbols, etc…”

Paintings for All

Although the images are personal to him, he emphasizes that they are reality based.  “There is nothing to suggest these paintings were inspired by the writings of Sigmund Freud or that they were based on any mental images that occur in dreams, no fantasy worlds, religious mysticism or ambiguous subject matter. In every picture the viewer doesn’t have to wonder whether it’s an actual object or a delusional one. If the viewer visited where the picture actually existed, he or she would see the same thing. It is what unites us all.”

For more visit https://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2016/11/why-bob-dylan-paints.

To find out more, check out The Writer’s Brush: Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture by Writers for more than 400 plates of artwork by great writers and the stories behind them.

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