Bob Dylan’s Painterly Riffs on Van Gogh, Cezanne, and Co.

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By Stephanie Murg Comment

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Vincent van Gogh‘s famous bedroom at Arles acquires a TV, Venetian blinds, and a warmer color scheme. A Cezanne-like fruit bowl becomes a basket filled with peaches just past their prime. A scene out of a Picasso sketchbook features the Statue of Liberty and a guy in a Cowboys jacket. Behold, the paintings of Bob Dylan. Yes, that Bob Dylan. Exhibited for the first time last fall in a small gallery in Germany, Prestel has gathered 170 of Dylan’s paintings into an a new book, The Drawn Blank Series. Named for a previously published book of sketches that Dylan here revisits in watercolor and gouache, the book reveals the iconic musician to be an Expressionist fan with a soft spot for jewel tones.

Sittin’ on Top of the World, Dylan took time away from touring to create 320 new works over eight months for the show. The Wanted Man made it clear that his work was Coming from the Heart. Indeed, drawing and painting has been Dylan’s longtime hobby. God Knows that only once in a Blue Moon does a show by a first-time artist at the Chemnitz Gallery get widespread international attention. Dylan himself didn’t make the opening. Stage Fright? Tell Me That It Isn’t True. “You’re No Good,” said some critics, and a few, well They Killed Him, said he was Driftin’ Too Far from Shore. But that didn’t have Dylan singing The Worried Blues. He’s Pressing On. No word on whether the work will require the tweaking of his song, “When I Paint My Masterpiece.” Might the Man in the Long Black Coat ever exhibit his work stateside? Maybe Someday. We Can’t Wait.

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