November 8, 2016

"If you dismiss David Hockney and Robert Crumb and believe only avant garde conceptual art has value, you won’t like Dylan’s landscapes."

"Yet if you do admire either of those meticulous artists, there is no reason to look down on Bob Dylan just because he happens to be a rock star. He has a surprising amount in common with Hockney. His art looks more serious with every exhibition. He is turning into a hero for anyone who thinks drawing is a noble thing to do."

Writes Jonathan Jones in The Guardian about Bob Dylan's art show in London.

42 comments:

William said...

What about Stan Lee and Marvel Comics. Can Stan Lee not truly be said to be the Homer of his generation? Myths for the masses. Now that Dylan has broken the Nobel logjam for artistic paradigms, why not pay proper homage to this influential artist. I'm sure Stan Lee has had more impact on the modern cinema than Bergman.

Robert Cook said...

"I'm sure Stan Lee has had more impact on the modern cinema than Bergman."

Whatever influence on cinema may be traced to Marvel Comics, the greater credit must be given to the man who created many of the characters and the look of Marvel comics: Jack Kirby. (Not that Lee is due some of the credit.)

Robert Cook said...

I'm surprised how pleased I am by Dylan's paintings. I remember seeing some from years back and they were quite crude and amateurish. He has obviously been working hard at developing his craft.

lemondog said...

The Highway reminds of Munch's 'The Scream' but without the Scream.

Ann Althouse said...

I don't think it's obvious that he's been working hard at developing his craft.

I believe the paintings are done from photographs. I don't know if he took the photos himself. I think the photos were projected onto the paper or canvas and then his work was perhaps something like coloring.

There are computer programs that will transform your photos into a painterly look similar to this. A complete amateur has access to these tools. I don't know what they prove of hard work. But I don't know if hard work matters. A lot of hard work is put into art that doesn't matter.

The question is why should this matter? If it matters because Bob Dylan produced it somehow or signs his name to it... well, that's not mattering because of art. Lots of things are interesting to look at, such as the signs and scenes that were framed and captured in the photographs that Dylan uses in his artwork.

Ann Althouse said...

I don't see anything in Dylan's work that's reminiscent of the kind of comics that Stan Lee did. Maybe the mention of Robert Crumb triggered you to go there, but the Crumb stuff that would be comparable would be those American landscapes with buildings and signs and streets... like this Short History of America series.

MayBee said...

I went to Dylan's show in London where they displayed his metal work gates. They were interesting and beautiful. I like it that he figured out how to weld if that's what he wanted to do with his time.
The same exhibit had paintings of fake Pulp magazines. Very humorous.

chuck said...

Does Dylan paint better than George Bush? That's the big question.

Achilles said...

Is there anything more useless than an art critic?

Mac McConnell said...

If photography is art, then Dylan's paintings are art. I like them.

Curious George said...

I like the bridge and motel.

robother said...

"Because Dylan is bullshit. Zimmerman is his name. You see, I don't believe in Dylan and I don't believe in Tom Jones, either in that way. Zimmerman is his name. My name isn't John Beatle. It's John Lennon."

Howard said...

Blogger Achilles said...
Is there anything more useless than an art critic?

Yes, blog commenters

Jay Vogt said...

Hockney himself advances the argument that some "classical masterpieces" from the 18th and 19th century are in part the products of a camera obscura or other such optical aids - really no different than "paintings done from photographs". In and of itself, it doesn't diminish nor does it enhance the artistic product.

The problem with believing that ONLY conceptual art has value is that the premise is so reliant on the existence of a compelling "concept". Despite what you might think creating one of those is extraordinarily difficult. The hit ratio is well below 1%

Howard said...

The work looks like a well functioning mid-level serious amateur. The designs are effective in both paintings with unusual perspectives without appearing gimmicky. Some crits. He likely uses titanium white for mixing which causes the lighter valued hues to look chalky. He should be using zinc or lead white to make those hues hum. Also, it looks like he scumbled his sky around the foreground which helps to kill the depth effects by creating clumsy halo's areound the foreground objests of interest. He fails to represent the clouds with any sense of dynamic realism. Finally, he does not use any simultaneous contrast tricks to enhance 3-D illusion.

Robert Cook said...

"I don't think it's obvious that he's been working hard at developing his craft.

"I believe the paintings are done from photographs. I don't know if he took the photos himself. I think the photos were projected onto the paper or canvas and then his work was perhaps something like coloring."


It's certain the paintings were made from photographs, rather than Dylan standing in the street painting al fresco. However, someone who has not developed a sense of color, and a deft touch with a brush and skill with using paint, will not be able make such finished pieces merely because they're "coloring" traced photos. Compared to the earlier paintings by Dylan I've seen, they do show unmistakable development of skill.

"There are computer programs that will transform your photos into a painterly look similar to this. A complete amateur has access to these tools. I don't know what they prove of hard work. But I don't know if hard work matters. A lot of hard work is put into art that doesn't matter."

If these are canvases with actual paint on them, I don't see how they would have been done with computer software. As for hard work...it matters if one's goal is to improve one's skills. This doesn't mean the products made with these skills will matter. There are pa-lenty! of artworks--going back to the drawings of the French Academy--that are as lifeless and inconsequential as they are superbly made.

Dylan's paintings certainly don't matter as art that will be valued or noticed or remembered by the world--other than that they were made by Dylan--but they're lively and pleasing and they show he's a pretty good amateur painter.

Howard said...

Jay makes a great point about conceptual art having a low hit ratio. Conceptual art and abstract art in general looks easy to do but in fact is very difficult to do well. For realism, there are more limited objective standards, therefore, one can employ a cookbook approach to be effective. Conceptual and abstract art has no such mooring and can have a slap-dash look, therefore it attracts hordes of silly, lazy, people who want to be an artist without putting in the work.

Howard said...

fresco is painting with wet lime plaster. Standing out on site is called en Plein Air which must be said with a very snooty fake American French accent.

iqvoice said...

Did Warhol do anything that wasn't stupid, derivative, or stupid & derivative? Yet morons pay billions for his shit. Art is dead.

Henry said...

I wonder how Dylan does as a sushi chef?

GWash said...

not too bad... much better than his album covers...

Howard said...

iqvoice: Go Home, negative nancy and clean your peashooter because mexican rapists. You are jealous of Warhol because he had lots of sex with trannies and was filthy rich. He said making money was art... too much of a free-market capitalist for a fascist like yourself?

Art has never been more alive. Each blog is a work of literary, visual and/or musical art. Every neighborhood is alive with musicians, painters, writers, gardeners, etc. You have to dodge all of the arts and craft fairs that go on throughout the warm months, the video game and movie industries employ more artists today than the number of professional artists who lived in the entire Renaissance. Also, most of the art produced is in the mode of classical realism.

Henry said...

Fresco is painting with wet lime plaster. The word literally means "fresh". Al fresco means outside. It's Italian.

Give me a photo
I don't care.
I don't paint
En plein air.
Don't tell me to go
Al fresco.
I ain’t goin’ nowhere
Whoo-ee! Ride me high
Tomorrow’s the day
My bride’s gonna come
Oh, oh, are we gonna fly
Down in the easy chair!

jrapdx said...

Jay Vogt said:
Hockney himself advances the argument that some "classical masterpieces" from the 18th and 19th century are in part the products of a camera obscura or other such optical aids - really no different than "paintings done from photographs". In and of itself, it doesn't diminish nor does it enhance the artistic product.

I agree, after all, it's long established that photography itself is a fine art, and so its predecessors and descendants would also qualify.

Worth pointing out that a photograph is not a literal representation of reality, rather it is itself an abstraction. Reducing the 4 dimensional world to a 2-dimensional planar object is meaningful only the extent of the capability of our cognitive powers. Other animals are unimpressed with photographs, we're not surprised at that.

The conventions of "perspective" in paintings is another abstraction we take as "reality" though it is not. Hockney has brilliantly played with these conventions as well as adding a great color sensibility. His massive painting of the Grand Canyon is a masterpiece, conveying the grandeur of the scene in a surprisingly effective way.

Not so familiar with Dylan's (OK Zimmerman's) visual art. He's an accomplished poet, maybe not so great a transformation from painting in words to painting in paint.

Robert Cook said...

"fresco is painting with wet lime plaster. Standing out on site is called en Plein Air which must be said with a very snooty fake American French accent."


al fres·co
al ˈfreskō/
adverb & adjective
adverb: al fresco; adjective: alfresco; adverb: alfresco; adjective: al-fresco

in the open air.
"an al fresco luncheon"

Bill Peschel said...

To my untutored eye, they're pleasant paintings, more interesting because they're Bob's.

I'm afraid I was prejudiced by the Guardian writer from the get-go when he called Dylan a "rock star." Unless we're in Orwell's world I can't imagine a definition that would include him, particularly the "star" part.

Howard said...

OK Robert, you are wrong, but comforted that fresco means in the air. Next question, do you think Zimmerman paints Alla Prima? Perhaps you prefer the dictionary as well: bagnato su bagnato

Static Ping said...

I like them. Pretty actually.

Robert Cook said...

I don't know if Dylan paints Alla Prima. His paintings suggest that he may.

There's no need to be a pedant, Howard. I didn't say Dylan wasn't making a fresco painting, I said he wasn't painting al fresco, as one would say, "Tonight, let's make love al fresco!"

I'm very well aware of the term "en plein air," which means "open (in full) air," just as "al fresco" means "in the open air."

Birkel said...

So, Howard is insufferable. For those of you who blocked him already, Good call.

wildswan said...

I've been to shows every summer where people paint the scene around them - my town. And Dylan's paintings are much better than any painting I ever saw there. And some of these my-town painters were making a living painting. Still I doubt if I would look twice if the paintings weren't by Bob Dylan.

They do seem surprising to me in that they seem to love the American landscape without cynicism.

Mac McConnell said...

Maybe Picasso could have used some photos, Pollack for sure.

Howard said...

OK you got me, Robert, I am a pedantic prick. IMO, the Bridge and Hotel are meant to look Alla Prima, but probably not. The Hockney knockoff looks like it could be because it looks much more dynamic, even the sky.

Howard said...

These two examples of middle-class working artists are light-years ahead of Dylan

Central Coast Plein Air
Los Angeles Plein Air

Howard said...

Birkel: Still mad I thought you were a dude. get a girly avatar or something so people know to be easy on you.

RigelDog said...

I LOVE his Brooklyn Bridge. I don't know how, but he makes me feel the light and all the senses of being in the city.

SukieTawdry said...

Wow. That's the first time I've seen any of Dylan's paintings. I like them. I really like them. I like what interests him. I'm a photo-hobbyist and the same things interest me (one of my favorite subjects is vintage motels and I've photographed them--and stayed in them--all over the country). Very nice.

BN said...

If Wisconsin had balls they'd wage war on the upper peninsula. It belongs to us/them! (Yes, i know the story. So what?)

Just sayin'.

BN said...

Of course, if Illinois had balls, they'd spell their name right, with a 'y' or a 'z'--their choice. Or perhaps just "Greater Chicago."

BN said...

Of course, if I had balls, i could get through the night without drinking and babbling.

Pray for me.

No. There are more important things to pray for tonight.

BN said...

Did I say "Greater Chicago?"

I meant, Chicago's bitches!

Joe said...

Some have commented that Dylan painted FROM photographs. To me, they look like Dylan painted over photographs. Regardless, I find them entirely forgettable.