The rightly revered musician and lyricist Bob Dylan was widely criticized last year when several paintings in an exhibition at Gagosian Gallery on the Upper East Side were found to to be highly derivative. Some of the work appeared to be copied directly from photographs without any attribution or indication they came from another source. Yet this week Gagosian is opening another exhibit with the musician's work, and has released a couple of images from the show: a 50-by-40 inch silkscreen on canvas titled Baby Talk Magazine: Strengthen Your Baby, and a silkscreen of Sharon Stone on the cover of Playboy... More like Bob Dilettante, eh?
The show, called Revisionist Art: Thirty Works By Bob Dylan, is described by the gallery as offering "a glimpse of an artistic process that is equally maverick and elusive. With a keen sense of awareness of everyday phenomena, in his Revisionist art Bob Dylan has transformed popular design elements—from Bondage Magazine to Baby Talk—by reconsidering the purposes of each: the graphics, syntax and chromatic content, enlarging them into silkscreened images that measure more than four feet in height."
Dylan, unsurprisingly, refused to comment on the controversy surrounding last year's show, but a gallery spokesperson defended the work, telling 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."
This time around, it looks like Dylan's source material is so blatantly obvious that you can't accuse him of copying, just subjecting the world to annoying art. The exhibit opens Wednesday at 980 Madison Avenue.