Bob Dylan and photography

I took the above photo from a blog asking Has Bob Dylan Sold His Soul? It reminds me of Milton Resnick’s comment that showing work in a gallery is equivalent to selling your soul to the devil.

To take this post ( a step further we now have the current 1 day art world controversy that was obviously planned since how would Dylan/Gagosian not have known that Dylan was making a verbatim copy of a well-known photographer like Cartier-Bresson, among others?

I don’t have anything definitive to say about Dylan’s paintings since I haven’t seen them. But it all seems a fairly pointless and lazy exercise and I can’t imagine why he did them instead of doing his own work except to comment on the fraudulence of the art world–another (God help us) Duchampian exercise. Who knows? Who cares? I’m just cynically trying to cash in on the current controversy to add to my gigantic army of avid fans and readers and then hopefully trick them into ignoring Dylan/Gagosian and pay some attention to Balthus/ Piero. I know Dylan draws big crowds (if he can find the right photograph… pun) so I put him in the title. Very market savvy.

The use of photographs by artists first entered widespread use along with the invention of photography–just as nowadays so many artists want to use computers to “aid” in their work. It’s my belief that the use of photographs or computers by artists who’ve developed no sense of themselves or their own visions will have no visions (and precious little selves) at the end of the day.

It has a lot to do with why French Academic work looks so stale in comparison to the Independent artists who rejected it. Artists like Gerome used photographs and even the ones who didn’t were making work that simulated photographs. Delacroix used photographs but his paintings don’t look at all as if they came from photographs (more on Delacroix later). This is because the French Academy, much like todays Contemporary Art Academy, made work to please their patrons and buyers. And those patrons and buyers were most pleased, just as they are today, with utmost facility and shallowness void of any genuine feeling. Feelling was replaced by sentimentality or patriotism in the French Academy. In today’s contemporary Academy it’s replaced by irony or “wit”–in quotes because generally the wit is generally of the caliber we find on the typical South Park episode (if, that is, it rises to that level).

The embrace of the mechanical and formulaic is a hallowed tradition of Academia–in the past just as today..

Avigdor Arikha, whose opinion on what happened there appears roughly equivalent to my own:

Question (Maurice Tuchman): When you were painting a Madonna in the 15th century you believed that you were saying something. Somewhere in the 1890s that left. I don’t think it’s simply the idea of accumulation of craft possibilities, I think it is a destruction of the idea that there is anything worth saying. Anything.

Arikha: Don’t you think that it left because of people who tried to paint the visible mechanically, like Bouguereau, which caused us to become disgusted with the visible. One would have preferred not to see than to see.

What I’m adding here to their exchange is that what occurred by the 1890s was the wholesale takeover of academic painting by the invention of photography. Cézanne and the others provided a new life for painting which lasted up through the early Abstract Expressionists where the Academy/Gallery/Museum structure voted for a return to Academicism (now called Post-Modernism) with artists happy to oblige which is where we’re all mired at present.

About trueoutsider

I'm an artist.
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