Bob Dylan’s Retrospectrum to bring most comprehensive display of artist’s work to FIU in November
As galleries begin to reopen and art lovers revel in the prospect of seeing pieces in the flesh once again, some of the world’s leading establishments are beginning to announce an incredible line-up that will revivify the arts scene once again. Among these is a ground-breaking exhibition set to be held at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum in Florida. Bob Dylan: Retrospectrum will be a pioneering show within the nation as the first comprehensive display of the figure’s visual art ever hosted in the US. It will include over 120 of Dylan’s paintings, drawings and sculptures, covering 60 years of aesthetic exploration from this remarkable cultural icon.
The retrospective is set to run from 30th November 2021 through till April 2022 at the globally esteemed museum, which is located at the Florida International University and is one of the largest museums in the state. Whilst taking viewers through Dylan’s artistic evolution over six decades, tracing his changing practices, techniques and influences, the expansive exhibition also situates the subject within a broader context, touching on the parallel development of his musical and literary career. A simultaneous and immersive exploration of these three inextricable threads will form the most rounded impression of the artist to be shown on US turf to date. However, while the multi-talented artist is both a best-selling writer and a Grammy-winning musician (with 11 of the esteemed trophies, no less), this display illuminates his talent as a visual artist with a vast body of work that is worthy of attention in its own right.
Florida International University’s president Mark B Rosenberg was thrilled to be able to host the us premiere of this huge project, making the art accessible to both students and the wider public and attracting gallery-goers the world around: “When I saw the catalogue representing the beautiful and comprehensive Bob Dylan: Retrospectrum exhibition that premiered in Shanghai in 2019, I knew immediately that I wanted to bring this iconic artist’s rarely seen visual works to South Florida, to be enjoyed by our students, our broader community and visitors from across the country and around the globe.”
Indeed, Dylan has a huge international following thanks to an extraordinarily rich and varied artistic output. He began his career in New York City’s Greenwich village back in the 60s, making his name in the folk music scene, and has since sold over 125 million records and produced some of the most iconic songs of all time. He continues to tour live today, maintaining his global fanbase by performing new material alongside classics at almost 100 concerts per year. He wrote a New York Times bestselling memoir, Chronicles Vol. 1, in 2004, and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature by the Swedish Academy in 2016 “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”. Back in 2012, former president Barack Obama even officially acknowledged the artist’s influence at the White House, paying homage to his work by bestowing upon him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour in the US.
While his public recognition as a visual artist came later, with The Drawn Blank Series at Germany’s Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, back in 2007, his panting and sculpting career has seen a similarly dramatic upwards trajectory to the other realms of his life. His work has already be displayed at many prestigious and leading galleries across the world, from London’s National Portrait Gallery to the National Gallery of Denmark in Copenhagen and the Palazzo Reale in Milan. Retrospectrum itself was initially created for China’s acclaimed Modern Art Museum (MAM) Shanghai in 2019, where it proved to be the most popular exhibition in the city that year. Moving back into the subject’s home territory, it’s likely that the show will achieve new levels of success.
The artistic director of MAM Shanghai, Shai Baitel, also cites Dylan’s huge influence as a factor in the exhibition’s success: “Bob Dylan is a seminal artist, rightly recognised as one of the defining figures of popular culture for more than half a century. We saw the profound impact and reach of Dylan’s work in Shanghai, where hundreds of thousands came to experience and engage with his remarkable creativity, unique observations and social commentary.”
At the same time as the exhibition, the The Wolfsonian Public Humanities Lab (WPHL), the university’s humanities and arts hub, will be hosting a symposium, DYLAN@FIU, which will provide a closer look into the many elements that make up Dylan’s career and how they have shaped culture through the years. This been scheduled to run during Miami Art Week, one of the preeminent international modern and contemporary arts fairs, which is set to display work from over 170 galleries from 30th November until 5th December. A more detailed programme is yet to be announced, but visitors can expect a fittingly multidisciplinary approach to an artist with a diverse and daring catalogue.
The editorial unit
Bob Dylan: Retrospectrum is at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University from 30th November 2021 through till April 2022. For further information visit the museum’s website here.