When I Show My Masterpiece? The First-Ever Retrospective of Bob Dylan’s Visual Art Is Coming to the U.S. This Fall

“Retrospectrum” is set to open at Florida's Frost Art Museum in November.

Bob Dylan, Sunset, Monument Valley (2019). Courtesy of the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum.
Bob Dylan, Sunset, Monument Valley (2019). Photo: Yu Jieyu/AP. Courtesy of the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum.

This fall, a major retrospective of Bob Dylan’s art will make its U.S. debut in Miami. “Retrospectrum,” as the exhibition is called, is set to open at Florida International University’s  Frost Art Museum on November 30—just in time for Miami Art Week. A multi-day symposium on Dylan’s cultural legacy will kick off the occasion.  

The Frost show will arrive as a slightly smaller version of the Dylan survey that opened in 2019 at the Modern Art Museum (MAM) in Shanghai. It was the most-visited exhibition in the Chinese city that year, and the largest such survey ever assembled of Dylan’s visual art.  

The catalogue of the Shanghai show is what inspired university president Mark Rosenberg to inquire about bringing the exhibition stateside, he said in a statement. “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,” said Rosenberg.

“Many prestigious institutions have expressed their interest in bringing ‘Retrospectrum’ to the US,” added Shai Baitel, artistic director of MAM Shanghai, in an email to Artnet News. “The Frost Art Museum at FIU, with its rigorous academic reputation, is a perfect fit for Dylan’s visual art homecoming debut.”

Some 120 paintings, drawings, and sculptures from the past six decades of Dylan’s life will make up the Florida exhibition, including never-before-seen works from a new series of paintings titled “American Pastoral.” (Details from the series haven’t been shared, but Dylan has a long history of depicting the U.S. landscape.)

An announcement from the museum positions the event as a showcase of the “development and diversity in Dylan’s visual practice,” and promises immersive and interactive displays.

Whether or not Dylan himself will have a role in assembling the show is unclear (and perhaps unlikely). When reached by Artnet News, a representative from the museum declined to share additional information on this point and others.

Baitel, meanwhile, simply said, “Dylan is constantly creating and therefore you can bet there will be some new elements and surprises.”

Bob Dylan, <i>One Too Many</i> (2020). Courtesy of the artist.

Bob Dylan, One Too Many (2020). Courtesy of the artist.

While the Nobel Prize winner has maintained a visual art practice for much of his life, the art world began to take serious notice over the past two decades. In that time, institutions such as the Kunstsammlungen in Germany, the National Portrait Gallery in the U.K., and the National Gallery of Denmark in Copenhagen, have all mounted exhibitions of the songwriter’s work. 

Dylan’s paintings have graced the cover of several albums, including his own Self Portrait (1970) and Planet Waves (1974), as well as The Band’s Music From Big Pink (1968). 

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