Bob Dylan to Exhibit at the National Gallery of Denmark
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Bob Dylan to Exhibit at the National Gallery of Denmark
Bob Dylan, Man on a Bridge, 2008 (detail).

COPENHAGEN.- The National Gallery of Denmark (Statens Museum for Kunst) has just begun preparing for next autumn’s major special exhibition by Bob Dylan. The exhibition will feature a rich array of new works that have not been exhibited at any other venue. It will also be the first major presentation to show Bob Dylan’s most recent works: large-format acrylic paintings.

When Bob Dylan gave a rare performance of the song When I Paint My Masterpiece at a concert in Copenhagen earlier this year, it was a covert nod to the National Gallery of Denmark on account of the coming exhibition. Probably very few people are aware that Bob Dylan has been an exceedingly productive visual artist since the 1960s. It has only been in the last couple of years that this multitalented artist has revealed this aspect of his prolific abilities and allowed a series of his works to be shown in public. The critically acclaimed exhibition ‘Bob Dylan – The Drawn Blank Series’ opened at the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz in Germany in the autumn of 2007, and smaller selections of many of the watercolours displayed in that exhibition have subsequently been shown in galleries in Europe and the USA.

Paintings and watercolours
The exhibition at the National Gallery of Denmark, which is planned to open in the autumn 2010, will feature nearly 100 works – many of which are reputed to be completely new paintings that Bob Dylan is currently working on, and which will thus be seen in public for the first time at the Copenhagen opening. Since The Drawn Blank Series, Bob Dylan has feverishly devoted himself to acrylic painting, and the exhibition at the National Gallery of Denmark will be the first to document this new direction he has taken in his work and to display large-format paintings from the artist’s forthcoming Brazil Series together with many of the original watercolours from the internationally acclaimed The Drawn Blank Series.

From the limelight to everyday life
Bob Dylan’s works most commonly evolve during his extensive tours, and the motives are correspondingly informed by the milieus and people he comes across in his nomadic existence. Here we find silent, anonymous figures passing briefly through the artist’s field of vision. Landscapes, city scenes and the interiors of hotels, bars, restaurants accompany other familiar motifs. In this respect, Bob Dylan seems to effortlessly step out of the limelight, depicting the commonplace day-to-day life he meets along his way, both austerely and with a superb feeling for the obscure situations that a painting can convey. As a visual artist, Dylan turns out to be a phenomenal observer who from a distanced perspective depicts the banal and commonplace in life so that they appear fresh and novel to the viewer.

“Bob Dylan’s artworks are informed by the same constant compulsion to renew that characterises his music. He doesn’t seem satisfied with settling on one form of expression once he has perfected it, but is constantly experimenting and trying out new artistic techniques and styles,” says Director of the National Gallery of Denmark, Karsten Ohrt.

From the art history perspective
Bob Dylan’s visual artistic practice has only been discussed by art historians to a limited extent, so critical examination and interpretation are called for.

“Several of Dylan’s images reveal an affinity for some of the modernist masters, not least Henri Matisse’s works from the 1920s – a link that is particularly interesting, given the unique collection of Matisse’s earlier works that belong to the National Gallery of Denmark. The choice of motifs, the unusual expressivity and the existential tenor in Bob Dylan’s works are testament to an imagery that is unmistakeably his own,” says the Chief Curator at the National Gallery of Denmark, Kasper Monrad, who is organising the planned exhibition.

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