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the pioneer of Dylan Studies; writer, public speaker, critic; became a Doctor of Letters in 2015 (awarded by the University of York, UK)

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Sunday, July 31, 2011


Bob Dylan's 2010 painting Opium.
More info here


Anonymous Kieran said...

It's a little beautiful, but isn't it a bit unimaginative to paint a picture like this, call it Opium, etc? I mean, it's like a late-19th century stereotype...

8:57 am  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

I'm no art critic but I agree with you.

4:35 pm  
Blogger joe butler said...

The composition is weak. too much going on in the bottom half not enough in the top. the colour is appalling ...that dirty green.... trop gluant. the pose is clichéd, and the social context is irresponsible.

But if he's signed the original somebody will buy it
for megabucks.

If he signed a piece of bogroll somebody would buy it.

Im glad I didn't buy the Christmas album.

But I am thinking of buying the Whitmark CD

plus ca change

8:11 pm  
Blogger Pope Leo said...

Joe Butler says "the social context is irresponsible". I'm not sure what he means here. What is the social context he is referring to, and what is irresponsible about it? And where, in any case, do artists' responsibilities - in so far as the phrase makes any sense - lie? I can't think of any great artist (literary, musical or pictorial) who has felt trammeled by 'social responsibility'. Whatever the phrase means..

As for the painting itself, it seems to me rather better than many of the Drawn Blank offerings. Virtually all of those are derivative in style, so it's not surprising to find "a late-19th century stereotype" popping up.

If I had the readies I think I'd plump for Opium (the painting rather than the substance) rather than the signed bogroll. I can tell a hawk from a handsaw (whatever the wind direction)...

5:38 pm  
Anonymous Rambling Gambling Gordon said...

If it was a ‘late nineteenth-century stereotype’ entitled ‘Opium’ the interior would be unremittingly gloomy, the atmosphere depressingly seedy, and the human figures either unconscious or in a seriously advanced state of apathy. Instead you’ve got modern-looking female in a bright dress looking as if she’s taking a break from trying to clear up the clutter on the floor to watch some day-time TV.

There may be some irony going on somewhere, but I can’t think about that because I’m distracted by how wrong the wall panels at the back look, how I can’t make out exactly what’s on the floor or on the piece of furniture, and how the folds around the woman’s legs don’t seem right.

And no, I can’t accept that something is happening and it’s just that we don’t know what it is.

9:03 am  
Blogger joe butler said...

hi Michael

In answer to Pope's question, perhaps a short list of great artists tramelled by a "trivial" matter of social responsiblity might begin with Tolstoy and Dostoievsky
....move on to say Eisenstein and Ken Loach......and finish with Picasso and Woody Guthrie

You may be wrong Pope in your buying hunches, on reflection a piece of bogroll (used) would undoubtedly find a place in the Saatchi gallery whatever the wind direction.

1:10 pm  
Blogger Pope Leo said...


I take your point about the bogroll ending up in the Saatchi gallery!

With regard to the writers you mention, yes, they all dealt with social themes, but I still don't understand what you're getting at when you say that the social context of the picture is irresponsible.

Your comment seems to imply a criticism of Dylan. Is it the subject matter that is the problem or its treatment, or both? Or neither? Might one make the same criticism of Shakespeare when he has Cornwall poking out Gloucester's eyes in King Lear?

7:22 pm  
Blogger joe butler said...

I didnt want to use the phrase glamourizing addiction
and if he hadnt titled it Opium perhaps I wouldnt have railed against it.

If the painting has a truth perhaps it lies in the disjunction between the sordid room and the glamour of the woman.

If he does sell it perhaps he could make a donation to Amy Winehouse's dad's charity.

Saatchi does have good art its the Thatcher history that irks me

11:11 am  
Blogger byronical said...

That is one horrible painting.

5:43 pm  

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