Two hundred artworks later, has Bob Dylan finally painted his masterpiece?

Does Bob Dylan write his songs in black and white or in color? This is just one question of many that occur to a viewer after spending a few hours with the 200-odd visual artworks that comprise “Bob Dylan Retrospectrum,” on exhibit through April 17 at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum on the campus of Florida International University in Miami. One reason to wonder about the color of his songs is that as a painter, Dylan mostly favors a bright, colorful palette. One might even call it Technicolor. Sure, Dylan the visual artist also works in black and white. He sketches in pencil, he makes elaborate line drawings, and he conjures illustrations that suggest he could have had an alternate career drawing interstitials for the New Yorker. But wait, you say. Since when is Bob Dylan is a visual artist? Cold Day: Bob Dylan’s paintings rarely contain people, and when they do, the effect tends to be cinematic. We have always known that Dylan dabbled in artwork. Occasional drawings accompanied his hand-penned liner notes and full-fledged paintings appeared as cover art for the Band’s 1968 debut album, “Music from Big Pink,” and his own 1970 album, “Self Portrait,” the cover of which was, aptly, a self-portrait by Bob Dylan. (Most of the songs on that album, however, were not Bob Dylan compositions – that was the joke.) In 1973, “Writings and Drawings” was published by Knopf, containing lyrics from all his songs up until that time alongside illustrations never before seen, some of which are included in the Retrospectrum exhibition. It has also been no secret that in early 1974, […]

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