The National Portrait Gallery, London will be exhibiting pastel portraits by Bob Dylan in September. This is the first time his work will have been seen in a museum in a 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, much less well known.
Previous Bob Dylan work has included Drawn Blank, a collection of sketches, published in 1994, and in 2007–8 a series of gouaches and watercolours based on this work was exhibited at the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz in Germany, and later at the Halcyon Gallery in London. The Brazil Series, exhibited in Copenhagen in 2010, was followed by The Asia Series at the Gagosian Gallery, New York in 2011. Additional exhibitions include The Revisionist Series, at the Gagosian Gallery, New York, in 2012 and The New Orleans Series, which premiered at the Palazzo Reale in Milan in 2013.
Bob Dylan Face Value is curated by the Gallery’s Contemporary Curator, Sarah Howgate, whose exhibitions include the highly successful Lucian Freud Portraits (2012) andDavid Hockney Portraits (2006).
Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘Bob Dylan is one of the most influential cultural figures of our time. He has always created a highly visual world either with his words or music, or in paints and pastels. I am delighted that we can now share these 12 sketches which were made for display at the National Portrait Gallery.’
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.