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Museum De Fundatie: BOB DYLAN – Face value

From 24 May 2017, Museum de Fundatie in Zwolle will show 12 pastels by Bob Dylan (1941). The 2012 portrait series Face Value, on loan from The Bob and Jenny Ramsey Collection, is the first visual art by Dylan ever to be displayed in the Netherlands.

The drawings are as direct and unpolished as his music. The ‘character studies’, as Dylan describes them, are portraits of three women and nine men. They look directly at the viewer with a certain impertinence. Dylan uses sharp lines to pin down the personalities, that are an amalgam of characteristics taken from his environment, and memories and interests in people both real and imaginary. The titles of the works combine what Dylan wishes to express (Losing Face, Face Down or In Your Face), followed by the first and family name of the person. There are no clear indications whether he really refers to pianist Sylvia Renard or author Nigel Julian.

Dylan selected the Face Value series for a show in London’s National Portrait Gallery in 2013. After London, the works were exhibited in Denmark, the United States and Germany, and can now be enjoyed in the Netherlands. The portraits have a unique place in his oeuvre. Ever since his youth, Dylan has made many sketches and drawings. He started working with oil paint in the sixties, but never before has he created such a comprehensive series of portraits. His use of colours in these pastels is also different: where he usually prefers a lot of expression and contrast, here he opts for four or five soft hues for the faces. Dylan works in layers; he starts by drawing the portraits in thin pencil lines, adds a soft pink or cream layer which he smooths out with his fingers and continues to develop the portrait with black or a dark brown. The drawings, like his songs, are expressions of an inventive imagination.

Dylan introduced his drawing talent to the public with something of a splash with his self-designed 1973 book Writings and Drawings, in which he combines lyrics with full-page ink drawings. He later published Drawn Blank (1989 and 1991-1992), to which he added a series of gouaches and watercolours 10 years ago.

In contrast to Dylan’s art, the museum also presents a portrait series of the Craeyvanger family, created more than 350 years earlier. Gerard ter Borch, Zwolle’s most internationally recognised artist, portrayed Willem Craeyvanger, Christine van der Wart and their eight children between 1651 and 1658. This comprehensive 17th century series of painted portraits of a single family is unique. Face Value is a continuation of previous exhibitions at Museum de Fundatie that focus on portraiture. The popularity of photo exhibition Dutch Identity (2016) and Look at Man! (finished January 2017) – displaying portraits by Bacon, Brancusi, Dumas and Richter – has proven that the ‘old’ genre of portraiture is certainly alive and well in the 21st century.

Bob Dylan was born in 1941 as Robert Allen Zimmerman. He signed his first record contract in 1961 and went on to become one of the most original and influential voices in the history of American folk and pop music. The 1963 release of his second album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, ensured his international artistic breakthrough. Subsequent years brought many classic songs such as Blowing In The Wind, The Times They Are A-Changin’, Subterranean Homesick Blues, Like A Rolling Stone, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door and Hurricane. With an impressive back catalogue and a career spanning more than fifty years, Dylan still regularly tours the world. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature on 13 October 2016, for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”. He is the first lyricist to be awarded the coveted prize. Bob Dylan will be playing live in AFAS Live in Amsterdam on 16, 17 and 18 April. For more information on this: www.mojo.nl/bobdylan

Bob Dylan: Face Value
Published by National Portrait Gallery
Introduction by John Elderfield
With over 500 songs, 46 albums and an astonishing 110 million record sales to his name, Bob Dylan (born 1941), now in his early seventies, is turning increasingly to another mode of artistic expression; one that has occupied him throughout his life, but for which he is much less well known. Although Dylan has sketched and drawn since childhood and painted since the late 1960s, only relatively recently has he begun to exhibit his artworks. The 12 works collected in this beautifully produced volume represent his latest foray into portraiture. In an illuminating essay and a rare Q&A with Dylan, curator and art historian John Elderfield explores the story behind these works. For Elderfield, Dylan’s paintings, like his songs, are “products of the same extraordinary, inventive imagination, the same mind and eye, by the same story-telling artist, for whom showing and telling … are not easily separated.”

BOB DYLAN – Face value
From 24 may until 20 august 2017
Museum de Fundatie
Blijmarkt 20
8011 NE Zwolle

  # Meer information on website De Fundatie  

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