Shalom Life | March 31, 2015

Bob Dylan Accused of Plagiarizing His Artwork

Dylan's NYC exhibit 'The Asia Series' in being questioned for art buffs

By: Ashley Baylen

Published: September 28th, 2011 in Culture » Art » News

Bob Dylan Accused of Plagiarizing His Artwork

Bob Dylan’s paintings went on display at the Gagosian Gallery in New York City just a couple weeks ago as part of an exhibit entitled ‘The Asia Series’. The New York Times reports that the paintings were inspired by the folk singers travels throughout Asia, but many art buffs and historians believe that Dylan has copied the images directly from published photographs.

Apparently, a few of Dylan’s paintings have already been discovered to be exact replicas of popular 20th century photographs, including Henri Cartier-Bresson’s 1948 picture that is almost identical to Dylan’s painting titled ‘Trade’.

In the brochure for the exhibit, the copy reads:

"I paint mostly from real life. It has to start with that. Real people, real street scenes, behind the curtain scenes, live models, paintings, photographs, staged setups, architecture, grids, graphic design. Whatever it takes to make it work. What I'm trying to bring out in complex scenes, landscapes or personality clashes, I do it in a lot of different ways. I have the cause and effect in mind from the beginning to the end. But it has to start with something tangible."

So it is plagiarism if the artist clearly states that he takes directly from ‘real’ things that already exist? According to the Gagosian Gallery, it is not.

The owner of Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, Michael Gray, recently wrote a blog post on this subject in which he stated, “The most striking thing is that Dylan has not merely used a photograph to inspire a painting: He has taken the photographer's shot composition and copied it exactly ... It may not be plagiarism but it's surely copying rather a lot."

Check out the photo/painting comparison in this New York Times article: http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/26/questions-raised-about-dylan-show-at-gagosian/

Do you believe this is plagiarism?

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