Bob Dylan's Gagosian Paintings May Be Plagiarized From Photographs


It's almost too funny to be upset about, but it looks like Bob Dylan straight out copied photographs for an exhibit of his paintings at New York's Gagosian gallery, titled "The Asia Series." What was originally billed as a "visual journal" of Dylan's travels through Asia has since backtracked into a "visual reflection," after Dylan fan site Expecting Rain uncovered blatant examples of line-for-line mimicry, prompting a mild NYTimes expose.

Dylan seems to have taken from photographers high and low: Leon Busy, Henri Cartier Bresson, Dmitri Kessel and even Flickr user Okinawa Soba, who announced to the merriment of all on Expecting Rain, that Dylan actually incorporated one of the Photoshop edits Soba used to alter the photograph. Ironically, that last and worst example of Dylan's shamelessness is also the only one likely covered under fair use.

Let's be honest, the Gagosian gallery is partly to blame here for giving an amateur artist valuable real estate. Is Dylan's musicianship great enough to withstand the odd plagiarism charge? Yes. But his artwork is essentially unknown, and as such, the Gagosian should have known better than featuring 18 examples of what's turning out to be Bob Dylan: The Paint By Numbers Edition. According to ArtInfo, this wouldn't be the first time a Gagosian artist found himself in court for photo-to-painting intellectual theft. In one of those weird poetic twists, the painter who copied the photographs in that case (and eventually lost in court), is Richard Prince, author of the text for Bob Dylan's Asia Series catalogues.

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