dylan as painter

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dylan as painter

Post  marianna on Mon Jul 14, 2008 5:11 pm

Check out, if you are interested these two:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7441708.stm

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/01/books/review/Pessl-t.ht

The first a D. interview where he talks mostly about his paintings.
The second is the nytimes review of the book with his paintings "The Drawn Blank Series".

I lent the Book to my sister's newspaper, so I don't have it at hand. It's a big, classy book with many paintings and some articles written by art critics . Someone with the last name Picasso signs one of them. The curator of the Cheimnitz Museum, which first exhibited his works, writes the Introduction and discusses at length his work. She is the one who has made most of the comments that D attacks viciously in his interview.

When I read the D. interview, I was bent laughing. D is simply INCORRIGIBLE. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. D is lashing it out, savagely ironic and disgusted everytime he refers to what the critics wrote about him and his work. This comes out only when you read the two things together, what the curator says and what D says. I guess that the Lady Curator was expecting D's eternal gratitude for her daring initiative to exhibit first his work. Little did she know.

Myself, I like D's work. He gets on my nerves when he hits the canvas with his little, broken, black lines which create nervous energy but also frustration and angst. I have a suspicion that he does that ,... big maybe here..., because he thinks he puts some kind of musical tempo and beat into the images. Whatever the reason, he makes me nervous.


What I noticed (and I did not spend a lot of time on the subject) are the following:

He is really and truly original. He does not copy and is not influenced by any other except himself. This feels like totally his own vision of the world.

There is a richness in his colours ( eg he does the same tree in many different versions of colours) and in his imagination which is wonderful. Very vivid, very LUSH scenes and a huge possibility of endless variations on one simple subject.

He does simple things in his paintings which are terribly smart. This is hard to explain without showing how. Like having one curve on one body and then another one on another, that creates some musical harmony.

He is VERY SENSUAL. That was a big surprise for me. But his women, wow!!!

He is VERY daring and original in the choice of his colours. And of his points of view.Never predictable. Always dares and wins.

He really notices the poetry in very,very simple things that surround us. He notices things that maybe we would not notice and he discovers the poetry in such scenes. Like the little stopover on the high way with some guys that look like truck drivers drinking and the lascivious woman resting on the balcony. One can imediately imagine this as a Bob song.

He loves the simple and the ordinary, a little fence in N. Orleans that he can see through his window for example. A little detail that he touches and it magically turns into a big Bethoven symphony through his touch..

He loves the road,....oh yeah.
he loves interiors too, very much so, the atmosphere, an armchair here, a lamp there and you get immediately inside this place, you inhabit it and you inhale it and it's full of style and romance.

Yes, I can categorically state that Bob is truly and really one of the last romantics left in the world.

I gather I like quite a lot about Bob's work. And please let me not get started on Co...OH< NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH!!!

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Re: dylan as painter

Post  Jim50 on Mon Jul 14, 2008 6:27 pm

Marianna

First of all, thanks for your considered response. I thought you might have something to say about it all. But I (knowing nothing about art) see it a bit differently. What I see is that Bob Dylan is becoming ever more of a brand and more and more people are cottoning on to the fact that his name means money. I went to see some of the prints for sale near where I live and some of the colour combinations were indeed vividly striking. Iíd have given maybe ten pounds for a copy of Truck or Two Sisters - just because of whoíd painted them - but the asking prices were two thousand and four thousand pounds respectively. Not for originals, mind, but for prints with a little pencil signature on the bottom. You know what I find hardest to believe regarding this sales offensive? Itís the idea that D would ever sit down with a pencil and sign his name oh so neatly onto 8,500 prints, one after the other. Thatís a job for a flunky if ever there was one, so you probably wouldnít even be buying his signature (even assuming thatís worth anything anyway). I agree that Bob has a lively imagination and acute awareness - I think we sort of knew that already. But his draughtsmanship is hopeless and there seems to have been no attempt in assembling the exhibition book to sort out the semi-accomplished (Girl With Beaded Necklace, T. T. Red, Bell Tower In Stockholm) from the doodles (Triple Image, Horse Fragments, Brussels) from the hopelessly inept (Staircase, Truck Stop, Woman Near A Window). When it comes to his music, I know, we happily take his doodles and failures along with everything else we can lay our hands on. But youíll never sell me on the idea that heís anything more than a journeyman amateur artist of minimal talent. If he enjoys it, of course, good luck to him. And if people are happy to pay big money for copies of what he produces, good luck to them too. But what next, Bob - symphonies, maybe? Back in the sixties he said he was thinking of writing one. Watch out, coming your way soon. 75 quid a go.


Jim
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Post  marianna on Mon Jul 14, 2008 7:19 pm

Hoooooooooh! God, you do write fast Jim50! And you are so convincing, I am sure in a " past life" you were an orator practicing his art in the Greek Agora. You know how much prestige these chaps carry in my country. So I mean this as a great and deserved compliment of course.

You know I started looking at Bob's paintings with great sccepticism at first. But after some time, his work grew on me. Now, I am very fond of it. With paintings, it all happens in the mind, I believe, long past the moment you actually paint something or see and experience something. It's an internal process and it happens with time, in time, it germinates and grows independently of the actual experience of things and independently of the senses. I have talked about this with lots of artists. Painters, sculptors. You paint with your mind. You sculpt with your mind.You appreciate some paintings and works of art years after you see them. Every time I see the same Picass , I experience different things and appreciate different things, it never ceases to grow inside me.

When once I visited my son's class at the School of Fine Arts, his professor made them paint the same subject for days on end and just changed the music he was making them listen to. I watched this and I realised how much music has to do with painting. Many great artists saw painting and music as one, as you well know. Kandinski, Klee and so many others.

The fact that Dylan is a musician has a lot to do with his paintings, I think I can see his music and his poetry, his lyrics in his works sometimes and I sure look for them there. I don't see D as many-sided, I see one D, one unified self, that expresses itself as well as it can. I leave the many identities theories to the "I am not There" genius director, what's his name...

I don't search for great painters, or great talents, or great draughtmen...etc. I search for artists who have something important to say. Instead of many trivial and trite things to nonsay and just sell. I think that D is such a man and such an artist.

Our society creates many different selves and millions of false identities which represent just different markets for consumers. A unified, authentic self has not made an appearance this century or even in the past century very often.

I therefore disagree with you wholeheartedly, I am afraid. I dont pay any attention to how much money Shakespeare made or what the Elizabethan van Ronk thought of him and how Shakespeare, who must have been a nasty, cunning devil, treated him in the tavern. All I care about is "Kind Lear". He wrote it, I read it and I am happy.

This is what I think and unfortunately I dont know how this text machine operates so That I can save and then go back and read what I am saying at leisure, before sending. What can you do? as the Americans say.

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Re: dylan as painter

Post  Jim50 on Mon Jul 14, 2008 8:43 pm

Marianna - I like what you say and can agree with much of it - about great art being inspired, of the mind, of being about much much more than merely the expression of some dispassionate Mark Knopfler-like technical ability. And yes, I dare say Bob has an exceptionally good eye in the same way that he has an exceptionally good ear. In respect of the second, although heís not a technically gifted musician and canít read a note of music, yet still heís able to produce, by an obdurate application of spirit and will, exceptional music, and that heís succeeded in doing that so more or less brilliantly for so long is amazing. And I dare say that, if he were able to put onto paper the pictures he sees in his mind, his paintings would astound us too. You can see the odd glimpse of what-might-be in what weíve been shown of his work so far. But it seems to me he lacks the basic ability to transmute more than the odd glimpse of what he imagines onto paper because though heís a born musician and performer, as a painter heís just a non-gifted ordinary joe. Remember how he used to be able to sing - think of the late '79/early '80 concerts - and compare that with how heís able to sing now. Well, his paintings aspire (on a good day) to his present day singing standard whereas he could once sing as well as Caravaggio could paint - as well as anyone anywhere. As for the marketing aspect, I donít suggest it was necessarily Bobís idea in the first place, but at the very least heís connived in it. As I said before, if he wants to paint, good luck to him. And if you like what you see, Iím happy for you too. But would you pay a four-figure sum for one of his prints? Do they tell in Greece the story of the emperorís new clothes?


Best wishes

Jim

A unified, authentic self has not made an appearance this century or even in the past century very often. What a great sentence! I'll be pinching that one for a review.


Last edited by Jim50 on Tue Jul 15, 2008 10:50 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typos)
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Re: dylan as painter

Post  Camilo on Mon Jul 14, 2008 9:10 pm

Jim50
First of all I love your avatar
Second, I own one of those prints. I actually do believe he signed them. I am sure he didn't sign them all in one seating. If it were by any chance not signed by him, I think there could be a lawsuit involved for false advertisement especially for the price of the pieces.

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DYLAN'S INFLUENCES

Post  yassas on Thu Jul 17, 2008 8:48 pm

MARIANNA WROTE:
He is really and truly original. He does not copy and is not influenced by any other except himself. This feels like totally his own vision of the world.

I DUNNO, MARIANNA. HIS DRAWINGS REMIND ME OF WOODY GUTHRIE TRYING TO IMITATE VAN GOGH. AND, THAT'S NOT A PUT DOWN. I LIKE BOB'S STUFF.

GEORGE (FROM A HOTEL BALCONY OVERLOOKING THE CARIBBEAN)
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Re: dylan as painter

Post  marianna on Fri Jul 25, 2008 7:42 pm

Don't be in such a hurry to judge and condemn before verification. I dropped by Halcyon Gallery for a quick look at D's paintings to see with my own eyes what was going on, because one can not talk about paintings without seeing them in reality, ever. I was impressed. Very. No relation to book photos. I almost lost my flight, caught it at the very last minute because I had to see them properly. A couple of houses down the street there was a Ronnie Wood exhibition. I just passed it as I ran and THAT was really bad.

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Re: dylan as painter

Post  leiper on Sat Jul 26, 2008 5:19 pm

marianna wrote: one can not talk about paintings without seeing them in reality, ever.

I don't agree with that. It always seems a lazy journalistic way of being confrontational: Did You See The Film/Hear The Song? If the answer's: NO, then the sneering can begin ....

Everyone has many opinions based on many things apart from Direct Personal Experience - I know that Sex and the City, the film, is trite, product-placement exploitative nonsense and I have not watched it - and I am correct.

Painting-wise, it's easy to look in a book of reproductions and recognise greatness or mediocrity.
I recognise that the Van Gogh self portrait in Kelvingrove Gallery in Glasgow is better to see there, but that's to do with something other than whether it's any good - like His Hand Touched This/It's So Flipping Old/This Came Across Europe, Ended Up Here ... lots of other impinging factors. And in a book it's a great picture even if the colours and depth are wrong. Because great art overcomes this and Bob Dylan's pictures do not.

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Re: dylan as painter

Post  Jim50 on Sat Jul 26, 2008 6:34 pm

The paintings do look considerably better in a gallery than in the book, but they don't (to me) look great or anything like it - only vaguely interesting because of who painted them. If you look at paintings he's done over the years - there's one to see on the front cover of Bringing It All Back Home (look on the mantlepiece), then Self Portrait, of course, and Planet Waves - his technique appears to have improved, and I don't doubt he's applied himself to a semi-serious study of all that. But talent is pretty-much God-given and, of that, as a painter, he would appear to have precious little.


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Re: dylan as painter

Post  marianna on Sun Jul 27, 2008 6:35 pm

[quote="marianna"]
I don't search for great painters, or great talents, or great draughtmen...etc. I search for artists who have something important to say. Instead of many trivial and trite things to nonsay and just sell. I think that D is such a man and such an artist.

quote]

I agree with you Jim. One does not need the direct experience to make quality judgements about art. But, painting is a visual art and it helps if you "see" the work. Then, I at least, always experience a BIG alteration in the degree of the aesthetic appreciation I derive, in the intensity of it. Some people can tell only by a single line if someone is a great artist. I can't so I need the experience more than others. So I did express myself badly, I can see that.

However, as it says in the quote, I did not claim that D is a great painter. I just said that he is a great artist who has something important to say. I also said that he is one of the last romantics. How many are there, left? How shall we all feel when the last ones go? Myself, I will feel terrible.

Before I left Athens last week, I put the question that we were discussing to my dear friend Billy the Kid, because I value his opinion a lot, as I value yours too. From the beginning what interested me was not to make a judgement about D as a painter, but to try to understand from this what is the role of an artist today. I liked B's answer so I will show it below ( with his permission of course):

.".. my views on the value of any given artist.

the auterist critics used to say the worst film of howard hawks was of much more value than the best of henry hathaway, and i agree. by the same token, the worst song of dylans is more valuable than the best song of any given lesser artist.

and so we come to this next step in our logic, which tells us that drawings by someone who is a major artist in another field are of more value than are better drawings by someone who is not a major artist in the visual arts.

therefor, dylan's work in the visual arts, while it may be substandard in certain critical judgments, is has a value that transcends any singular aesthetic, as it represents another facet of the artists world vision.

the film masked and anonymous is substandard in many ways, but as a work in the dylan canon it is like a film version of the basement tapes. tarantula is by no means a novel, but it is highway 61 in narrative prose, and thus has a strong value as part of the dylan canon.

was william blake a great artist? no, but his illustrations are so much a part of his poetry that the poetry would lessened without it.

so it is with dylan in the visiual arts. . his vision is so strong that the slightest work in a a field that is not his primary focus becomes an unmistakable abd neccessary addition to the overall life work.

ultimately, the work is all that remains of the artist ..although the artist is more than the sum of his work. if is through the dabblings in forms of which the artist is less skilled that we sometimes find immesuarable insights into the unique perceptions of a major artist such as dylan."

Billythekid

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