Plagiarism Questions Arise About Dylan Paintings

Bob Dylan’s art exhibition that opened in New York City last week is drawing criticism from some fans who are accusing the singer of ripping off photographs he didn’t take.

“The Asia Series,” which marks Dylan’s first exhibition in the United States, is being shown at the Gagosian Gallery through Oct 22. According to the gallery’s website, the series is “a visual reflection on his travels in Japan, China, Vietnam and Korea” depicting “people, street scenes, architecture and landscape.”

The statement noted that Dylan often draws and paints while on tour. The timing of the exhibition makes sense seeing as how the singer played Japan and South Korea in March 2010, and performed in China and Vietnam in April 2011. 

Photo: Gagosian Gallery
A 2010 painting by the singer. (Click on the photo to see the complete image.)

However, The New York Times’ Arts Beat blog reports (via Rolling that some fans believe Dylan created his paintings by replicating images by photographers including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Léon Busy and Dmitri Kessel. The Times references comments and analysis from Dylan fan website Expecting Rain and the Bob Dylan Encyclopedia blog.

One example is Dylan’s painting “Opium,” which resembles a photograph from 1915 by Busy. 

The Gagosian Gallery released a statement on Monday about the controversy: “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.”

Click here to read the full article by The New York Times.

Click here for the Gagosian Gallery’s website.