Are Bob Dylan’s New Paintings Plagiarized?

09/29/2011 10:40 AM |

At right, Leon Busys 1915 photo (courtesy Musee dAlbert Kahn), at right Bob Dylans recent painting (courtesy Gagosian).
  • At left, Leon Busy’s 1915 photo (courtesy Musee d’Albert Kahn), at right Bob Dylan’s recent painting (courtesy Gagosian).

Earlier this year we predicted that one of the season’s must-see exhibitions would be Bob Dylan’s show of paintings from his travels throughout Asia at Gagosian‘s Madison Avenue location, and we were so right! But not because the impressionistic travelogue acrylic paintings are especially interesting—highly debatable; because rather than being accounts of the musician’s travels they may actually be copied from well-known photographs.

The Times reports that similarities between Dylan’s paintings and photographs by famous photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Dmitri Kessel were first pointed out on various blogs and sites dedicated to the musician. Not only has he copied the subject matter of these well-known photographs, but has not even altered their coloring or composition, so that they appear to be straight-up copies.

This is a far cry from Gagosian’s press release for the Dylan exhibition, which reads:

He often draws and paints while on tour, and his motifs bear corresponding impressions of different environments and people. A keen observer, Dylan is inspired by everyday phenomena in such a way that they appear fresh, new, and mysterious.
The Asia Series, a visual reflection on his travels in Japan, China, Vietnam, and Korea, comprises people, street scenes, architecture, and landscapes

In response to questions about the paintings’ photographic sources, a Gagosian rep told the Times:

While the composition of some of Bob Dylan’s paintings is based on a variety of sources, including archival, historic images, the paintings’ vibrancy and freshness come from the colors and textures found in everyday scenes he observed during his travels.

The evidence to the contrary is pretty compelling. The Asia Series is on view through October 22.

One Comment

  • Legendary singer/songwriter Bob Dylan has a showing of works currently being displayed in New York. The exhibition is said to be Dylan’s’ impressions of “people, street scenes, architecture and landscape” culled from Dylan’s travels in Asia. Several, however, say the works take images from formerly published pictures. Well, I guess it’s not a big issue and I would only find it wrong if he will going to sell them for profit. Dylan may need short-term loans to cover up this mess.