Such an interesting array of comments over on the artsbeat blog – here's some juicy ones -
One of the Dylan supporters on 'Expecting Rain's website posted 'You can't copyright a photographic image so everything's in the public domain'. So much for the educational level of our youth.
This is just one of those times when you wonder, "What was he thinking?" If Dylan thinks this is some sort of cute, post-modernist joke, he's exceedingly late to the party.
Would these paintings be any better if they were not directly copied? Would anyone else get an exhibition of this work anywhere, let alone Gagosian? The issue is really why anyone takes a dealer of this kind seriously as an arbiter of artistic quality.
For Christ's sake, it's Gagosian. It's Madison Avenue. It's people who don't know what $200,000+ will buy in real art. It's not a show for lovers of art, but speculators counting on the secondary market and those odd souls who believe in Dylan as some believe in Christ. Should anyone care? Dylan has adopted, borrowed, appropriated, stolen, call it what you will, from the beginning of his career. He's taken what has moved him and made it his own, starting with the name Dylan.
Probably a combination of Uncle Bob not having much to do with assembling the show and an over-eager gallery coming up with a pretentious theme. The guy's got lots of kids and grandkids and needs to pay the bills too. Any expectation that this is supposed to be a set of mind-blowing paintings is laughable.
Clearly, BD is not skilled at painting or drawing. Rank amateur work. It takes guts to show it, narcissism to tout it.
Paul CometX NYC
The copies are so close that we should consider this possibility: that Dylan paid someone to paint a bunch of pictures, and that someone copied from existing material, but didn't tell Dylan, who got blind-sided.
Anyway, I'm not interested in Dylan the painter nor in Picasso the folk singer.
re: Picasso's quote that good artists copy, great artists steal. “What Picasso meant was that great artists rummage through the great junk heap of lost, bypassed, and forgotten ideas to find the rare jewels, and then incorporate such languishing gems into their own personal artistic legacy.”
There is an old Star Trek episode, Whom Gods Destroy, in which a bubbleheaded Orion slave girl offers to recite a poem for Captain Kirk. "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day," she begins. “Shakespeare wrote that hundreds of years ago,” he points out. "I wrote it again yesterday!" she snaps. The Orion girl is insane. What's Dylan's excuse?
Unfortunately, this truly is plagiarism. Copying another artist's photos for your own practice and enjoyment? No problem. Exhibiting them and calling them your own? Big problem. Just a year ago, I prevailed upon my daughter to remove from her AP art portfolio a replica she made of a Sun Magazine cover photo. Not allowed says the College Board rules.
If I'd so closely copied photographs to make paintings that I then claimed were based on my own observations, I would've been kicked out of art school, but I'm not Bob Dylan, and Gagosian isn't art school. Nevertheless, from what little I can tell from the photos here, there's not much more to these paintings than the unattributed compositions. Buy them because they're Dylan paraphernalia, not because they're "art."
First of all, the paintings are weak, at best. If Clement Greenberg were alive, he would not stop throwing up. Moreover, Dylan's not, I repeat, not a painter. A brilliant songwriter, yes and It's fine he uses photographs to work from, but why they are showcased in a gallery and in the Times and not a deserving painter is a reflection of the gross celebrity culture that is consuming what's left of intellectual aesthetics.
I think this is a major embarrassment for Gagosian Gallery. This is junior high school stuff in terms of quality and methodology. Their explanatory statement tries to obfuscate with art speak.
A lot of people don't seem to get it. He's not doing anything original here at all. He's solely copying photographs that are someone else's composition, idea, observations—and the fact that he does it with only rudimentary skill just makes it all the more embarrassing. I'm an artist, too, and the word for this approach is "cheating".
'Art is whatever you can get away with'-Andy Warhol
What is the point of debating Mr. Dylan’s appropriation of other artist’s work? I mean duh – its right there! And of course the practice of copying, preferably altering to some degree, does have its place throughout art history. (See – The Drawing Center’s exhibition Creative Copies: Interpretive Drawings from Michelangelo to Picasso - April 9 - July 23, 1988) What is shameful though is Mr. Dylan’s claim that these concepts and images are solely based on his own observations. If instead he had just been honest about the origin of his images there would be no problem.
I wrote the article in the Redbubble forum, mentioned by ohmercy in #18 above and I would like to add a caveat....artists do often paint from the photos of others, but without full permission from the photographer you run into copyright issues...where the photos are in the public domain, full attribution is desirable...
What's distressing to me is that despite the astonishing technical advances photography has enjoyed over the years, the medium is still held in low regard in some quarters. For the Gagosian Gallery to allude to Henri Cartier-Bresson's photographs, for example, as being "archival, historic images" is astonishing.
Jonathan Lethem's 2007 essay, "The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism" probes appropriations by Dylan and others. http://harpers.org/archive/2007/02/0081387
"Dylan's art offers a paradox: while it famously urges us not to look back, it also encodes a knowledge of past sources that might otherwise have little home in contemporary culture, like the Civil War poetry of the Confederate bard Henry Timrod, resuscitated in lyrics on Dylan's newest record, Modern Times. Dylan's originality and his appropriations are as one.”