Rock On: Bob Dylan

7:00 AM

Bob Dylan, Endless Highway, 2016
Rock On

Bob Dylan’s series, “The Beaten Path” showcases many American landscapes through the eyes of the infamous folk singer. With these paintings, Dylan wanted to display his favorite parts of American culture from his time touring around the country. Often, Dylan chooses a subject and omits the aspects of the scene that he doesn’t like or think belong—office buildings, cars, skyscrapers. While this is not an accurate representation of modern America, Dylan explains that it is intentional.

These manipulated vignettes are not meant to have emotional meaning according to the artist and are supposed to contain images that are recognizable to any viewer. Dylan wants his art to be universal and understood by all and he aims to do that by de-personalizing his paintings.

Highway 61 Revisited, an exceptionally large canvas, took up an entire wall in the Halcyon Gallery. This gorgeous sunset scene succeeds Dylan’s aim in defining America’s landscape, but I believe utterly fails his intentions to not have work that evokes emotion for the viewer. In all of his paintings, there is common theme for a desire for nostalgia in the very premise of why he paints. His reverence for hay-day America motivates Dylan and it is quite apparent when seeing his paintings of hotdog stands, retro cars, and neon signs.

His expert use of brush strokes and color can’t help but remind me of masters like Cézanne and Monet—two painters known for their landscapes and expressive pieces. Dylan uses cameras and hand-built camera-obscuras to create his compositions and paint; this tool is not obvious when looking at his images because of how stylized they are, but in paintings such as Abandoned Hotel”and this one, it is a little more apparent because of the location and the strange use of angle. Discovering Bob Dylan’s painting has been an indulging experience for me and I hope that more people look into his painting whether or not they enjoy his music.

This series of blogs aims to discuss various paintings by or of famous classic rock musicians and inspect the correlation between the figures and the art involving them.

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