Bob Dylan Accused of Painting Plagiarism!
September 28, 2011 9:10 AM ET
A visitor to the Halycon Gallery in London views a painting by Bob Dylan.
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images for Halcyon Gallery
"The most striking thing is that Dylan has not merely used a photograph to inspire a painting: he has taken the photographer’s shot composition and copied it exactly," wrote Dylan critic Michael Gray in a post on his blog, Bob Dylan Encyclopedia. "He’s replicated everything as closely as possible. That may be a (very self-enriching) game he’s playing with his followers, but it’s not a very imaginative approach to painting. It may not be plagiarism but it’s surely copying rather a lot."
Photos: The Artwork of Bob Dylan
While some fans in the Dylan-centric online community Expecting Rain have voiced concern about the songwriter's highly derivative visual art, others have argued that "quotation" is a part of the tradition of art. Nevertheless, it's a bit difficult to reconcile this notion with the fact that the work has been presented as coming from the rock legend's "firsthand" experiences abroad.
Photos: The Evolution of Bob Dylan
Dylan has, in his way, been forthcoming about using photographs in his paintings. In a statement in the exhibition's catalog, the singer says that he paints "mostly from real life. It has to start with that. Real people, real street scenes, behind the curtain scenes, live models, paintings, photographs, staged setups, architecture, grids, graphic design. Whatever it takes to make it work."
In this exclusive glimpse inside the mind of a genius, here are a few original Dylan paintings which have been unfairly maligned as "derivative".
"Hotdog on paper plate" by Bob Dylan
"Portrait of the Hotdog as a Young Sausage" by Yousuf Karsh
"Car, Car" by Bob Dylan (based on the classic folk song "Car, Car" by Woody Guthrie)
"Leaving Manzanar: 1943" by Ansel Adams
(Note: not all art historians are in agreement on this issue. Some believe Dylan's "Car, Car" was plagiarized from the following image:)
"Ants on Car" by Anthill Adams
"Happyface" by Bob Dylan
From "Fat Celebrity Faces", an exhibition for the Guggenheim Museum by Annie Leibovitz
"Another one-o'-them self-portrait things" by Bob Dylan
Van Gogh Action Figures (I just thought they were cool)