Published Sep 28, 2011Bob Dylan is one of the most influential musicians of all time, but when it comes to painting, the legendary songwriter is struggling to be similarly respected. The singer's exhibition The Asia Series opened on September 20 at New York's Gagosian Gallery, and it has sparked accusations of plagiarism.
As the New York Times points out, the exhibit was promoted as containing "firsthand depictions of people, street scenes, architecture and landscape" that Dylan saw while in Asia. But fans have pointed out that some of the paintings appear to be based on photographs not taken by the artist.
The Dylan painting "Trade" bears a striking similarity to a photograph by Henri Cartier-Bresson from 1948. Another, entitled "Opium," appears to have been inspired by a Léon Busy photograph from 1915. And as Bob Dylan Encyclopedia shows, another painting was based on a Dmitri Kessel photograph from 1950.
Dylan has not responded to the accusations that the paintings are copies, but a representative from the Gagosian Gallery said, "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."
Of course, this is hardly the first time that Dylan has borrowed liberally from other works. The New York Times previously pointed out the similarities between the lyrics on Bob Dylan's Modern Times and the words of Confederate poet Henry Timrod.