Friday, April 23, 2021

French Artist Claude-Angèle Boni Explains Two Dylan-Inspired Treasures

Don’t put on any airs When you’re down on Rue Morgue Avenue They got some hungry women there And they really make a mess outta you --Bob Dylan, Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues 

The Rue Morgue Avenue
A few weeks ago I was introduced to a French artist whose work is absolutely fascinating. Oh, and yes, she is a Dylan fan. And all her work is Dylan inspired and Dylan themed. 

I learned of her existence through a friend who was planning to purchase a couple of her paintings. He sent me digital renditions of nine pieces so I could weigh in and give him my opinion. I was wowed, and reached out to her this past week seeking permission to share her paintings here and perhaps her story. 

The artist is Claude Angele BONI, a long time Dylan fan who was given the rare opportunity to draw Bob and he drew her. That is a much longer story that has already been published in fanzines like Isis, Judas (#13, April 2005), and Endless Road (#6, Sept. 1984). 

I contacted her to request permission to share her work here, and she quickly assented. Through our correspondence I discovered that her first meeting with Bob took place in Avignon and that she attended the concert there in 1981 during his Shot of Love Tour. It just so happens that I have a bootleg of a portion of that concert and wrote about it here: Blowing in the Wind and Dylan's 1981 Concert in Avignon.

So I asked her to tell me more about her painting The Rue Morgue Avenue and the people who were there in the picture.

The original "Les Vilains Bonshommes" by Latour.

Claude-Angèle BONI: First of all it's a "pastiche" of one of my favorite paintings by Henry de Fantin Latour called in French "Les Vilains Bonshommes" and in English "The Corner." (a.k.a. "By the Table")

EdNote: A pastiche is a work of art that imitates a work by another artist or period.


On the first row you have, from left to right, VERLAINE & RIMBAUD (the French poets with their nargileh) (EdNote: Hookah) ROBBIE ROBERTSON, EDGAR ALLAN POE , DAVID CROSBY, and BOB with his Bible and his bottle of whiskey. On the second row you have from left to right: BOB JOHNSTON (Bob's manager), AL COOPER, ROGER McGUINN + a painting on the wall by Gustave Courbet sometimes called "Baigneuses" or "The Bathers." 

There is a long story behind that painting. Courbet was supposed to have started it and another less famous painter had finished it. You can also find that on Wikipedia. This painting is important because of the signature of COURBET and because it's part of the numerous  Art Works stolen by the Germans during the last world war. That's the reason why I chose it instead of a portrait of Baudelaire who was supposed to be featured on the original painting because CHARLES BAUDELAIRE, the famous French poet, died before Fantin Latour had finished the painting.

I made THE RUE MORGUE AVENUE after reading CHRONICLES, I liked the influence Bob Johnston and all those companions behind Bob had on him in the 60's. I also chose those three poets I used to read when I was a teenager, the same books Bob started to read in the early 60's, too.

When the Night Comes Falling

Claude-Angèle BONI: Now briefly, I can tell you something about “When the Night Comes Falling.”  It's about what it takes to love someone. From a woman’s point of view. It takes faith and waiting, like the main character MAGDALENA, the woman in red on the left. And it takes risk, like the woman walking alone on the chess board. And it also takes imagination (the image of Bob appearing in a dream at night.) If I had the desire to make this painting because EMPIRE BURLESQUE is an album from the 80's that I like very much. 

EdNote: I actually enjoyed Empire Burlesque myself. I felt it had a lot of great tracks and was underrated. Or maybe Dylan had set the bar so high that it was expected that every song had to be stellar, as on so many of his other albums. 

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What's been shared here only scratches the surface of BONI's art. Many of her pieces contain layers of symbols and a complexity that compares with many of Dali's surrealistic compositions. I look forward to sharing more.

Here's a bonus track: an outtake from Highway 61 Revisited which appeared on Dylan's Bootleg Series Vol. 12: The Cutting Edge

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Stay Tuned. More paintings, more insights. More Dylan.


Anonymous said...

The usual if minor complaint: it's Edgar Allan Poe, not Edgar Allen Poe.

Ed Newman said...

Thank you. Corrections always welcome. I should have caught that. Loved Poe when I was young.

Unknown said...

Thank you Ed, your comments on my paintings are so nice. (Claude Angèle BONI)