One of the most iconic and prolific musicians of our time, singer-songwriter Bob Dylan has been chronicling modern life, note by note, for nearly sixty years. Equally influential and indomitable, Dylan’s songs helped redefine folk, pop, blues, country and rock music, all while providing a soundtrack to America’s civil rights and anti-war movements. The power and breadth of his artistry, however, has only been fully recognized recently: in 2016 his work creating “new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition” was honored with a Nobel Prize for Literature.
This exhibition celebrates yet another impressive aspect of Dylan’s polymathic creative output: his talents in visual art. A dedicated performer, Dylan started what is known as his “Never Ending Tour” in 1988; between 1989 and 1992, as he traveled through North America, Europe, and Asia, he began sketching glimpses of his life on the road. The resultant pencil and charcoal drawings were a way to “refocus a restless mind,” as Dylan claimed, providing him a new outlet to celebrate the comings and goings of everyday life. Dylan made three different collections out of the original drawings by ‘remastering’ these works, adding vivid watercolor and gouache to digital enlargements of the drawings to create a new, special edition set entitled The Drawn Blank Series. All three series were first seen in public at the 2007 exhibition at the prestigious Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz Museum in Germany. After this exhibition, the works now seen in Helsinki were left to Dylan himself. Today, this collection of 92 unique original signed works is owned by a private collector while the other two sets were sold to a private gallery. Drawing comparisons to modern masters such as Henri Matisse and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, they reveal the full talents of an “alchemist of the word and the sound,” transforming the world before him into gold.
The exhibition is curated by Ms. Katharine J. Wright, Consulting Curator
Characteristics of Collection