Pastel portraits by Bob Dylan will be shown for the first time at London’s National Portrait Gallery in September – the first time his work will have been seen in a museum in Britain.
The 12 new works to be displayed represent the latest portrait studies from an artist who has sketched and drawn since childhood and painted since the late 1960s, but only began to exhibit his art works six years ago.
Bob Dylan: Face Value is a side-step for the Gallery in that Dylan’s portraits are not of subjects from British public life, past or present, nor are they made by a working portrait artist. The portraits represent characters, with an amalgamation of features Dylan has collected from life, memory and his imagination and fashioned into people, some real and some fictitious. For the art historian John Elderfield, who was instrumental in bringing the display to the National Portrait Gallery, Dylan’s paintings, like his songs, are ‘products of the same extraordinary, inventive imagination, the same mind and eye, by the same story-telling artist, for whom showing and telling – the temporal and the spatial, the verbal and the visual – are not easily separated.’
Bob Dylan is one of America’s most influential and important cultural figures. With over 600 songs, 46 albums and an astonishing 110 million record sales to his name, Dylan, in his sixth decade as a worldwide cultural icon, is turning increasingly to another form of artistic expression; one that has occupied him throughout his life, but for which he is much less well known.
Bob Dylan: Face Value will be in the Contemporary Collection displays, Room 40, on the Ground Floor Lerner Galleries, National Portrait Gallery, London, 24 August 2013 – 5 January 2014. Admission free.
Top: Nina Felix by Bob Dylan © Bob Dylan
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.