MIAMI (AP), Bob Dylan has been telling stories with songs for over 60 years. The master lyricist of America has captured moments in a new series paintings. They are intimate and mysterious, just as his songs.
On Tuesday, the most extensive exhibition of Nobel laureate’s visual arts in the U.S. will be displayed at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Museum in Miami. 40 new pieces from the 80-year old songwriter will be on display.
The exhibition will feature more than 180 acrylics and watercolors as well as drawings and ironwork sculptures. It will be open until April 17th with no further stops. Tickets start at $16 per hour and can be booked through hourly slots.
“Retrospectrum”, which includes Dylan’s 1960s work, starts with pencil sketches he made for his songs like “Highway 61 Revisited” or “Like a Rolling Stone” and continues through abstract sketches of the 1970s. It covers six large rooms. The vast majority of the works were created over the past 15 years.
“He was recognized in all possible ways as a writer and composer, as well as as a singer and performer. The audience now sees the last element,” Shai Baitel, the artistic director at the Modern Art Museum Shanghai where the show debuted, said. “Dylan can express himself in many different ways.”
Dylan’s latest works are introduced by a stunning, huge canvas depicting a sunset in Monument Valley, Utah. Dylan has spoken out about his admiration for John Ford, the Western movie director who used that same iconic landscape many times in his films.
Beyond the wall with the reddish buttes painting is a room featuring the new series “Deep Focus”, named after a cinematography technique where everything is blurred out.
“All of these images are from films. Dylan said in one of the walls that they tried to show the various predicaments people find themselves in. “The dreams and the schemes are the same — life is coming at you in all of its forms and shapes.
Dylan is a great example of urban life, just as Ashcan Schoolartists believed when they painted realistic images of people’s hardships at turn of 20th century.
One painting shows a jazz band playing in a vibrant club; another depicts a gray-haired male counting wads of money in another. He shows two men fighting in boxing matches and a woman smoking and drinking alone in a bar with an interesting look on her face.
It will take some internet research to link the images from Dylan’s most recent works to specific movies.
Richard F. Thomas, a Harvard University classicalist, has written and studied about Dylan. In an essay for the exhibit, he stated that he had found online references to tie one of the paintings depicting a man wearing a black leather jacket pouring sugar onto his coffee. This scene was from “The Loveless,” which is a 1981 film in which Willem Dafoe portrays a biker.
Thomas discovered a scene from 1971’s movie “Shaft” in which Richard Roundtree ordered street food in Times Square. Dylan also used barber’s poles as a recurring object in his new artworks.
Thomas wrote that the scenes in ‘Deep Focus’ are just like the songs he created over the years. This will keep Dylan scholars busy for many years to come.
Other than the new works, some of the other works will be displayed in Miami. They have previously been exhibited at places like the National Portrait Gallery in London and the Halcyon Gallery in London.
The images in his paintings depict America as seen from the perspective of a road-traveler. His artwork often features realistic depictions of diners and motels, marquees as well as gas stations, railway tracks, and gas stations.
Baitel, artistic director, stated that it was almost like looking through a pamphlet with his memories.
Dylan also experiments with perspective. He has attempted to imitate Vincent Van Gogh’s work in “The Bedroom” by painting corners of an apartment in New York City. He has also done variations, changing the background color or depicting the same characters at a different time of day like Claude Monet’s Rouen Cathedral series.
Interactive displays are available for music lovers. The 64 cards containing the lyrics to “Subterranean Homesick Blues” were framed in eight columns by eight row, and the clip is played in loop.
Dylan is currently on tour in support of his 39th album, “Rough and Rowdy Ways”. It’s unclear if he will be stopping by.
Jordana Pomeroy is the director of the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum. This will be the museum’s first ticketed event since 2008. Florida International University will host a symposium about Dylan, inviting scholars to talk about the entire work of the songwriter.
Pomeroy stated, “That’s how we are going to treat Bob Dylan.”