Sunday, October 23, 2011

Dylan Paintings Stimulate Controversies

The lead story at today is an article by photo critic and historian A. D. Coleman with regards to the problems raised by Bob Dylan's paintings on display in New York at the Gagosian. Today's Coleman piece was written after having visited the gallery and seen the works in person. It's a detailed assessment of the work and the contentious issues surrounding this show.

There are several areas of controversy. First, is Dylan's visual art worthy of such respected venues for display or is the relevance of his art due only to the fact that he is Dylan? The more serious issue stems from whether Dylan painted from photographs or from observation of real life, which becomes a controversy only when you compare the show's promotional materials (painted from scenes on his trips) to the facts of the case. Like myself, he often uses photos as a basis for the work.

Finally, the biggest issue has to do with doing paintings based on photos where someone else owns the copyright.

I first became aware of this problem when I noted that among the superfine works of crayon artist Don Marco is a reproduction of a well-known John Wayne photo. The artwork was done with Crayola TM but technically this is a copyright violation and an ethical matter.

Frankly, I don't know where the lines are on this issue, however. I've done 30 or more paintings and drawings of Dylan myself, mostly based on images others have taken. My one attempt to contact Dylan's agent in order to shoot original photos myself went no where, as you would guess.

My personal workaround, when doing many of my paintings of public figures, is to shoot my original photos from off my monitor while watching a DVD. Ack! This is probably a violation of the film makers' copyright.

Well, if you have a little time, check out A. D. Coleman's Bob Dylan: The Painter and the Photograph (3). Be sure to follow all the links because they will take you to some interesting places and spaces.

"Meantime, life goes on all around you." Have a good one.

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