Now there’s a show of Dylan’s paintings at Gagosian Gallery in New York. The Gallery originally said that the paintings provided “firsthand depictions of people, street scenes, architecture and landscape” observed by the singer during his travels in Asia.
Trouble was, they weren’t firsthand—Dylan copied them from photographs. Here’s one example, of a painting copied from a photograph by Dmitri Kessel, and here are a couple more, copied from photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Léon Busy.
At least five and maybe six of the paintings in the Gagosian exhibition were based on original historical photographs in the collection of Okinawa Soba, who posted them on Flickr (he thinks a sixth is questionable as Dylan’s source).
You can hit the TOP link or the New York Times article and judge the pictures side by side for yourself, but it’s undeniable. Dylan completely and utterly plagiarized other people’s photographs as paintings without significant changes and claimed them as his own.
I’m a long time Dylan fan since high school, seen him three or four times including with the Grateful Dead, but he plagiarized the shit out of those photographers. That he claimed the paintings were based on his observations while in Asia just takes the deception to another level. Dylan must have a button in his brain labeled “give some nonsense backstory to this gullible arts section reporter so he’ll write an article about my project.”
If painting someone’s photograph without giving them credit isn’t plagiarism, then likewise I should be able to photograph the Mona Lisa, claim it as my original creation, get a gallery exhibition, and sell prints. If anyone says “You can’t do that” I’ll say “I can do whatever I want because I’m Bob Dylan.” (I’m going to change my name to Bob Dylan, just like Robert Zimmerman changed his name to Bob Dylan.)
I’m not exaggerating about the Mona Lisa. Some of the guys Dylan ripped off are Leonardo da Vincis in the photography world. Henri Cartier-Bresson is the father of 35mm film photography and would make anyone’s list of the 10 greatest photographers who ever lived. Copying an HCB photograph is like copying a Picaso or Rembrandt painting and being surprised that someone recognized it. It’s crazy.
Come to think it, this whole thing might point to a reduced mental capacity on Dylan’s part. But that might be the fan in me stretching for a dementia defense.
Previously – Greg Mortenson, Bullshit Artist