Bob Dylan Criticized for Copying in His Paintings

November 22, 2011

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.
1. exhibit (n.) [ig-zib-it] – an object or collection displayed to the public
    Example: The painter’s first exhibit shows his unique painting style.

2. resemblance (n.) [ri-zem-bluhns] – similarity in appearance
    Example: The child has a strong resemblance to her mother.
3. inspiration (n.) [in-spuh-rey-shuhn] – an idea or action that causes someone to do something
    Example: He became a teacher because of inspiration from his father, a college professor.

4. community (n.) [kuh-myoo-ni-tee] – a group of people having the same interests
    Example: There are many online communities centered on pop music.

5. firsthand (adj.) [furst-hand] – based from direct or actual experience or sighting of something; original source
    Example: The book is about events that the author experienced firsthand.

Read the text below.

Bob Dylan, a popular American singer and artist, was criticized and accused of copying existing photographs in his “The Asia Series” paintings, exhibited in the Gagosian Gallery, Manhattan.

Dylan described the painting collection as inspired by his trips to Japan, China, Vietnam and Korea. However, critics pointed out his works’ strong resemblance to several photographs by famous photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Léon Busy.

Michael Gray, a Dylan critic, argued on his blog called the “Bob Dylan Encyclopedia” that Dylan did not just use the photographs as inspiration, because he copied almost every detail of the photos. This method, Gray added, shows lack of imagination on the painter’s part.

Some of Dylan’s fans in the online community “Expecting Rain” defended Dylan’s works, saying that artists traditionally use some part of other artists’ work in their creations. However, this contradicts Dylan’s statement about the paintings being inspired by his firsthand travel experiences in Asia. 

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.
Discussion A

·         Why do you think some people copy?
·         Would you copy somebody else’s work to come up with something better? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         What do you think makes an artwork original? Explain your answer.  
·         Do you think copying is okay in art-making? Why or why not?

November 22, 2011