‘ Rather than fantasize, be real and draw it only if it is in front of you and if it’s not there, put it there and by making the lines connect, we can vaguely get at something other than the world we know. ’ BOB DYLAN
“Creativity has much to do with experience, observation and imagination, and if any one of those key elements is missing, it doesn’t work.” – Bob Dylan, Chronicles: Volume One The Drawn Blank Series is Dylan’s most comprehensive and familiar body of visual work to date. Between 1989 and 1992, Dylan began to sketch, rapidly, in order to “relax and refocus a restless mind.” He chronicled his life on the road: in between gigs, on trains, in cafés, backstage. The drawings, mainly done in pencil, a few in charcoal and pen, trace his everyday observations, his thought process and his vision. As a complete collection, they give us a rare glimpse into a private world that is at once open and closed, implied and un-implied. The black and white drawings have a quiet, honest simplicity. Dylan’s marks are not always perfect – rough around the edges, scruffy, naïve at times – but they capture an intimate, informal sense of everyday life, the coming and going of a man on a journey. They have a sense of spontaneity and an open expressiveness that gives them a true feeling of authenticity and a vulnerability that is convincing. At the time, Dylan chose not to exhibit his drawings publicly, instead producing Drawn Blank , an artists’ book that was published in 1994. Dylan is, as we know a great storyteller. His sharp sense of awareness allows him to take ordinary, mundane details from daily life and translate them into evocative, experimental studies. The images are
straightforward, uncluttered, they give a snapshot of the transient life and fleeting encounters of a man on the road, always moving from one place to another. There is a feeling of disconnect - a sense of being removed from the subject matter, lingering in the sidelines, peeping through windows and quietly observing from a distance. It is this juxtaposition that haunts Dylan’s work, the result of a complex mind both immersed and withdrawn. In 2007, Dylan revisited some of his early black and white sketches. Using a combination of watercolours, gouaches and acrylics, he painted over scaled-up digital versions by hand, adding intense bursts of colour and breathing new life into them. He painted different variations of the same image, playing with colour, emotion and atmosphere. Dylan is a master colourist and his ability to transform an image through striking tonal shifts shows the skill of an accomplished and ambitious artist. While the imagery remains static, it is the changing colourations that create an emotional intensity and impulsiveness that differs in each work. Again and again, Dylan is able to tell a new story, triggering a fresh interpretation that allows each image to stand independently and not solely as part of a collection. Train Tracks is one of the most iconic drawings from The Drawn Blank Series . The image, of a train track receding into the distance, with no beginning and no end, is perhaps most reminiscent of Dylan’s journey. Having played more than 2,500 shows since June 1988, Dylan continues travelling across
the world from city to city. Trains have always played an important part in Dylan music, writings and art. In his autobiography, he writes: “I’d seen and heard trains from my earliest childhood days... The sound of trains off in the distance more or less made me feel at home, like nothing else was missing, like I was at some level place, never in any significant danger and everything was fitting together.” 1 Produced exclusively for Halcyon Gallery, Sidetracks is a running series of 327 unique prints, each hand embellished by Dylan. In each version, he uses the same coloured reproduction as his starting point, but the colour and texture vary depending on the brushstrokes, with each image a more nuanced version of the last. A parallel can be drawn here – between this process of re-working the same graphic to provoke a new set of emotions – and Dylan’s music. When performing, Bob Dylan strives for the original – so that the audience rarely hear the same version twice. The same progression is true of Dylan’s hand embellished prints. “That which he has done for years on the stage - performing new versions of his old songs in order to give a fresh interpretation - he’s now continuing on deckle-edged paper.” 2 Dylan revisits the same image, re-colouring, re- configuring and re-imagining it; each time producing a new interpretation… and the series multiplies. By doing this, he reveals a flicker of his passing journey, repetitive on the one hand, as he travels from one city to another, but ever changing. Dylan’s prints demonstrate his ability to adapt and refine
the original, manipulating our feelings through his revisions. Like their creator, they are themselves on a journey, always evolving, changing, expanding, never still.
Each print in the series has been dated and named by location, evoking a specific time and place on Dylan’s continuous journey.
1 Bob Dylan, Chronicles: Volume One , London: Simon and Schuster, 2004, p. 31 2 Tobias Ruther, The Drawn Blank Series , London, 2008, p. 5
Bob Dylan is one of the world’s most influential cultural figures. During the past five decades he has released 48 albums and written over 600 songs including ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’, ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’’, ‘Like A Rolling Stone’, ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’ and ‘Make You Feel My Love’. Selling over 110 million records around the world, his songs have been covered more than 5,000 times by artists as diverse as the Byrds, the Rolling Stones, Duke Ellington, Jimi Hendrix, Keith Jarret, Guns N’ Roses, Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bob Marley, Pearl Jam, Bonnie Raitt, Neil Young and Adele. Dylan’s music has been recognised and honoured with many awards around the world, among them an honorary doctorate of music from Princeton University, New Jersey, in 1970 and another from the University of St Andrews, Scotland, in 2004. In 1988 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1991. His song ‘Things Have Changed’ from the film Wonder Boys (2000) won him an Academy Award in 2001. Dylan has been on a late career streak since 1997, when his Time Out Of Mind album gained three Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. He received a special Pulitzer Prize Citation in 2008 for his ‘profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power’. In 2012 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian accolade. From his performances in Greenwich Village coffee houses, festivals and rallies in the early 1960s to his stadium concerts of the 1970s and his subsequent worldwide tours, Dylan has built his musical reputation on the strength of his live appearances. He has played no fewer than 100
shows a year since 1988 and has performed alongside other major artists such as Joan Baez, Tom Petty, George Harrison, the Grateful Dead, Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, Norah Jones, Bono, Jack White and Bruce Springsteen. Although Dylan is best known as a singer and song-writer, he is also a writer, film director, actor, radio broadcaster and visual artist. His experimental collection of writings, Tarantula , was published in 1970 and his autobiography, Chronicles: Volume One (2004), became an international bestseller. Dylan has both directed and acted in a number of films, making his first appearance in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) and more recently co- writing and starring in Masked and Anonymous (2003). A collection of his drawings and sketches made while on a tour of America, Europe and Asia between 1989 and 1992 was published as Drawn Blank in 1994. These pieces were reworked and first exhibited in Germany (2007), and then at the Halcyon Gallery, London (2008). In 2010 the National Museum of Copenhagen featured his Brazil Series , and in 2013 his exhibition Face Value opened at London’s National Portrait Gallery.
Selected Exhibi tions
2013 Mood Swings, Halcyon Gallery, London, United Kingdom
2013 Face Value, National Portrait Gallery, London, United Kingdom
2013 The New Orleans Series, Palazzo Reale, Milan, Italy
2013 Revisionist Art: Thirty Works by Bob Dylan, Gagosian Gallery, New York
2011 The Asia Series, Gagosian Gallery, New York
2010 The Brazil Series, Statens Museum for Kunst (National Gallery of Denmark), Copenhagen, Denmark
2010 The Drawn Blank Series, Accademia Albertina delle Belle Arti, Turin, Italy
2010 The Drawn Blank Series , Asahi Exhibition Centre, Roppongi, Tokyo
2010 Bob Dylan on Canvas , Halcyon Gallery, London, United Kingdom
2009 The Drawn Blank Series , Halcyon Gallery, London, United Kingdom
2009 The Drawn Blank Series , Edinburgh City, Centre, Scotland
2008 The Drawn Blank Series , Halcyon Gallery, London, United Kingdom
2007 The Drawn Blank Series , Kunstsammlungen, Chemnitz, Germany
1966 | In April 1966, Dylan began a tour of Australia and Europe, backed by members of the group that would become The Band. The trip was surrounded by controversy; audiences found his electric sound difficult to accept, and several of the performances had walk-outs and catcalls from the audience. On 29 July near Woodstock, New York, Dylan was in a motorcycle accident and he disappeared from public view for many months. He would not tour again for eight years. 1967 | In spring 1967 Dylan’s former touring outfit, The Band, moved to Woodstock, where he was living. The recordings he made with them in the basement of their rented house were used as publishing demos but were also widely bootlegged and only legitimately released in 1975 as The Basement Tapes .
Dylan performed at the Newport Folk Festival in front of an audience of 50,000. It was also during 1963 that his songs became associated with the civil rights movement, and on 28 August he sang at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom – the rally where Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. 1964 | His fourth album, Another Side of Bob Dylan (August 1964), represented an important step in his maturity as an artist, combining an understanding of folk and blues traditions with a more sophisticated poetic approach. 1965 | In March 1965 Dylan released Bringing It All Back Home , which included scoring for electric instruments and signified his transition from acoustic music to rock and roll. The next month, he began a tour of Britain, and the excitement surrounding it was captured in the film documentary Don’t Look Back (1967), directed by Academy-award- winning cinéma vérité documentarian D. A. Pennebaker. Dylan’s single ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ was released on 20 July 1965 and became his first major hit. Five days later he showcased his new electric sound at the Newport Folk Festival, backed by members from the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. The event was a polarising moment, his performance greeted with boos and cheers in equal measure.
Bob Dylan was born in Duluth, Minnesota, in 1941. He grew up in the mining town of Hibbing and played in a number of rock-and-roll bands as a high- school student. In 1959 he enrolled at the University of Minneapolis, but he left during his freshman year.
1961 | In January 1961, Dylan moved to New York City, where he visited his idol Woody Guthrie in hospital and performed in the folk clubs of Greenwich Village. Following a performance at New York’s Gerde’s Folk City in September, Dylan received public recognition through a review by critic Robert Shelton in the New York Times . His talents were brought to the attention of artists and repertoire producer John Hammond, and in October 1961 he signed a contract with Columbia Records.
1968 | Dylan’s first live appearance following the accident was on 20 January
1968 with The Band at a memorial concert for Woody Guthrie in New York City.
1962 | In March 1962 his first album, Bob Dylan , was released.
1969 | Dylan surprised fans for a second time with his release of Nashville Skyline , an album of country music (April 1969) . The single ‘Lay, Lady, Lay’ was a top-ten hit in both America and Britain. In May 1969, he appeared on the first episode of Johnny Cash’s new television show, singing several songs as duets with
1963 | His second album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (May 1963), made his name as a singer and song- writer. ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’, which appeared on the album, was released by Peter, Paul and Mary and reached number two on the American music charts in July. In the same month,
Cash. Dylan rejected requests to perform at the Woodstock Festival and instead topped the bill at the Isle of Wight rock festival on 31 August.
backed by The Band, embarked on his first tour in eight years, playing 39 shows in 21 American cities coast-to-coast. A live album documenting this tour, Before The Flood , was released in June. In September 1974, Dylan began work on one of his most significant albums, Blood On The Tracks. 1975 | Blood On The Tracks was released in January; the album would eventually top the American charts. From autumn 1975 until spring 1976, Dylan toured North America with the Rolling Thunder Revue, which included a changing entourage of artists such as the poet Allen Ginsberg and singers Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez. Footage of the tour was used in the four-hour film Renaldo and Clara , directed by Dylan, which was released in 1978. 1976 | January 1976 saw the release of Desire , one of Dylan’s bestselling records of all time, which topped the charts for over a month in America. In November, Dylan appeared in The Band’s farewell concert, which was filmed by Martin Scorsese and released as the film The Last Waltz in 1978. 1978 | Dylan embarked on an extensive tour of New Zealand, Australia, Europe, America and Japan. 1979 | In the late 1970s, Dylan became deeply interested in developing a more spiritually inspired music based on his
evolving studies of the Bible. Two albums rooted in gospel music – Slow Train Coming and Saved – were released in 1979 and 1980.
1970 | In early 1970, Dylan left Woodstock and moved to Greenwich Village. That June he received an honorary doctorate of music from Princeton University, New Jersey. Dylan’s collection of experimental writings from 1966, Tarantula , was finally published in November 1970. 1971 | George Harrison invited Dylan to appear in a benefit concert for Bangladesh in August 1971 at Madison Square Garden, New York City. 1972 | In November 1972, Dylan contributed to the soundtrack of the film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973), directed by Sam Peckinpah. The soundtrack included ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’, which has subsequently been covered by over 100 recording artists. Dylan made his acting debut in the film as a minor member of Billy’s gang. 1973 | A collection of Dylan’s lyrics and poetry, Writings And Drawings , was published in July 1973.
1982 | Dylan was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in March 1982.
1985 | In July 1985, Dylan contributed vocals for the all-star single ‘We are the World’, in aid of African famine relief. On 13 July he appeared, backed by Keith Richards and Ron Wood, at the Live Aid concert at the JFK Stadium in Philadelphia. His third book, Lyrics: 1962–1985 , was published and Biograph , a five-disc retrospective collection, was released. 1986–1987 | During 1986 and 1987 Dylan toured, backed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers; in 1987 he also toured with backing from the Grateful Dead, which led to the album Dylan & The Dead (1989). Dylan starred in the movie Hearts of Fire (1987), directed by Richard Marquand. 1988 | In January 1988, Dylan entered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with an induction speech by Bruce Springsteen. In spring, Dylan joined Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty and George Harrison to form the super-group The Traveling Wilburys; they released two
1974 | In January 1974 Dylan, again
top-ten albums in 1988 and 1990. Late spring saw the start of what fans would begin to call the ‘Never Ending Tour’, with a tight-knit band of ace musicians.
Mind album (1997) through Columbia Records in September 1997. In October, Dylan played a concert before Pope John Paul II at the World Eucharistic Conference in Bologna, Italy. President Bill Clinton presented him with the prestigious Kennedy Center Honor in December at the White House. 1998 | In 1998 Dylan was awarded three Grammys for his Time Out Of Mind album, including Album of the Year. 2000 | In May 2000, Dylan was awarded the Royal Swedish Academy of Music’s Polar Prize for ‘constantly changing modes of creativity’ over almost four decades. He wrote and performed the song ‘Things Have Changed’ for the film Wonder Boys (2000), directed by Curtis Hanson. 2001 | In January 2001 Dylan won a Golden Globe Award for ‘Things Have Changed’, and in March it was awarded Best Song at the Academy Awards. Dylan released the critically acclaimed album Love And Theft in September. 2003 | Dylan, along with Jeff Bridges, Penelope Cruz, Jessica Lang and John Goodman, starred in the film Masked and Anonymous, directed by Larry Charles, which was released in July 2003. 2004 | Dylan received an honorary doctorate of music from the University of St Andrews, Scotland, on 23 June 2004. THE NOUGHTIES
1990 | In January 1990, Dylan was appointed Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, the highest cultural award of the French government. His name was selected for Life magazine’s list of the hundred most influential Americans of the twentieth century.
October saw the publication of the first volume of his autobiography, Chronicles: Volume One , which spent 19 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and was an international triumph. 2005 | The film documentary No Direction Home , directed by Martin Scorsese, was shown on BBC2 in Britain and PBS in America on 26 September 2005. Concentrating on the years between Dylan’s arrival in New York City in 1961 and 1966, the start of his eight- year hiatus before resuming touring, the film was a worldwide success with both critics and fans. 2006 | Dylan’s forty-fourth album, Modern Times (2006), gave him his first American number one album in 30 years. In spring 2006 Dylan began his disc jockey career, hosting the weekly Theme Time Radio Hour show for XM Satellite Radio in America and BBC Radio 2 in Britain. 2007 | Modern Times won a Grammy Award in February 2007 for best contemporary folk album, giving Dylan a double win, as the song ‘Someday Baby’ was also awarded best solo rock vocal performance. The award-winning film
1991 | In February 1991, Dylan received a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement.
1992 | Columbia Records marked the thirtieth anniversary of Dylan’s first album with an all-star concert and worldwide television show at Madison Square Garden on 16 October 1992. The performance featured more than 30 artists including George Harrison, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, Eric Clapton and Dylan himself. 1994 | After having declined to perform at the Woodstock Festival in 1969, Dylan made a triumphant appearance at Woodstock ’94. Drawn Blank , a collection of 92 sketches and drawings made by Dylan while on a tour of America, Europe and Asia between 1989 and 1992, was published. 1997 | Heralding a return to form as a song-writer, performer and recording artist, Dylan released his Time Out Of
THE CURRENT DECADE
I’m Not There , written and directed by Todd Haynes and inspired by the life and music of Dylan, was released in August 2007. An exhibition entitled The Drawn Blank Series , which contained reworked versions of Dylan’s sketches and drawings, opened at Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz in Germany in October. 2008 | In April 2008, Dylan received a Special Citation Pulitzer Prize ‘for his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power’. A major exhibition of selected works from The Drawn Blank Series , together with new reworked versions, premiered at the Halcyon Gallery in London in the summer. 2009 | Dylan’s album Together Through Life entered the charts at top ten in 19 countries around the world, hitting number one in both America and Britain. In October he released Christmas In The Heart , his first collection of Christmas songs; all of the album’s proceeds were donated to charity in perpetuity, raising well over a million dollars for good causes around the world.
Dylan remains an eminent voice in our national conversation and around the world.’ On 10 September Dylan released his thirty-fifth studio album, Tempest , and from November his controversial Revisionist Art Series was exhibited at the Gagosian Gallery . 2013 | On 5 February 2013, the Palazzo Reale in Milan presented The New Orleans Series , a group of oil on canvas works curated by Francesco Bonami. In March Dylan was elected American Honorary Member of the American Academy of the Arts and Letters. Face Value , an exhibition of pastel portraits, opened at the National Portrait Gallery on 24 August, representing Dylan’s first museum show in London. At the same time, Sony Music released the tenth volume of The Bootleg Series , ‘Another Self Portrait’. In November, Dylan’s lifelong fascination with metalwork came into the public arena at Halcyon Gallery’s exhibition Mood Swings , presenting his first collection of iron works.
2010 | On 11 February Dylan performed ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’ live
from the White House during the broadcast A Celebration of Music
From the Civil Rights Movement. Later that month, Dylan was awarded the National Medal of Art by the American government. On 9 September, Dylan unveiled 40 new acrylic and oil paintings in the Brazil Series at Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen, Denmark. 2011 | In April 2011 Dylan played in China and Vietnam for the first time. His next group of paintings, The Asia Series , opened at the Gagosian Gallery in New York in September. 2012 | On 29 May Dylan was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honour; Barack Obama said: ‘A modern-day troubadour, Dylan established himself as one of the most influential musicians of the twentieth century. The rich poetry of his lyrics opened up new possibilities for popular song and inspired generations. His melodies have brought ancient tradition into the modern age. More than 50 years after his career began, Bob
Front cover (left), inside front cover and page 1: Ireland, 1966 © Barry Feinstein Photography
Page 4–5: © Bob Dylan
Page 10–11: Paris, 1966 © Barry Feinstein Photography
Page 14: Royal Albert Hall, 1966 © Barry Feinstein Photography
Page 16–17: Bob Dylan photographed by David Michael Kennedy, 1985 @ David Michael Kennedy
Page 20–21: © Bob Dylan
Page 22–23 (left to right):
Bragg Apartment, New York City 2007 Mixed media on paper 76 x 61 cm Signed
Mexico 2007 Mixed media on paper 76 x 61 cm Signed Open Door 2007 Mixed media on paper 51 x 41 cm Signed Statue of Liberty 2007 Mixed media on paper 76 x 61 cm Signed Dad’s Restaurant 2009 Mixed media on paper 122 x 91.5 cm Signed Train Tracks 2008 Mixed media on paper 122 x 91.5 cm Signed
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