• Emma Laramie

First-Ever Retrospective of Bob Dylan’s Art to Come to the US This Fall


Bob Dylan. Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images.


You would be forgiven if you hear the name Bob Dylan and simply think of his reputation as a genre-defining musician. Yet the man is a jack-of-all-trades, and this folk singer, Nobel Prize recipient, and whisky maker can also boast credentials as a visual artist. To celebrate his artistic practice, a new exhibition, titled Retrospectrum, is set to open at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University on November 30th to coincide with the beginning of Miami Art Week.


Installation view of “Bob Dylan: Retrospectrum” at the Modern Art Museum Shanghai, 2019. Photo courtesy of Modern Art Museum Shanghai.


Retrospectrum will be a slightly smaller version of the expansive exhibition of Dylan’s work that opened in 2019 at the Modern Art Museum (MAM) in Shanghai. That show was the most attended exhibition in the Chinese city that year and was the most extensive survey ever assembled of art by the “Mr. Tambourine Man” singer. In fact, it was while flipping through the catalog for the MAM show that Frost Art Museum President Mark Rosenberg decided the museum needed to host this exhibition. As he said, “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.”


Bob Dylan, Subway Cityscape Triptych, 2020. © Bob Dylan.


While this iteration may be more pared down than what was shown at MAM, the Frost is billing Retrospectrum as “the most expansive and detailed exhibition of Bob Dylan’s artwork ever seen on US soil.” So far, Miami is the only stop announced.


For its Florida iteration, Retrospectrum will present 120 paintings, drawings, and ironwork sculptures from the past six decades of Dylan’s artistic practice (who knew he had been making art for so long?). Presented in conjunction with the objects themselves will be immersive and interactive displays that lend context to the development of his diverse visual practice in tandem with that of his musical and literary canon. Also on view will be never-before-seen works from a new series of paintings titled “American Pastrol.” While the specific details of this series remain under wraps, Dylan has a long history of painting US landscapes, so it is safe to assume these works will be of a similar vein.


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


If you happen to be in Florida during Art Basel Miami, be sure to check out the multi-day symposium hosted by the Wolfsonian Public Humanities Lab (WPHL) that kicks off the opening of Retrospectrum. So far, all that has been announced is that the symposium will explore the myriad facets of Bob Dylan’s career and cultural influence; specific details of the events are forthcoming.


Bob Dylan, One Too Many, 2020. © Bob Dylan.


While his visual practice isn’t as well known as his other ventures, this is not Dylan’s first major exhibition, either. The Kunstammlungen Chemnitz in Düsseldorf first displayed his paintings in 2007. That exhibition sparked a growing interest in Dylan’s artistic output and it was later followed by shows at the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Palazzo Reale in Milan, and the National Gallery of Denmark in Copenhagen.

It is unclear whether or not Dylan himself is participating in the mounting of this exhibition. However, according to a statement by MAM artistic director Shai Baitel made to Artnet News, “Dylan is constantly creating and therefore you can bet there will be some new elements and surprises.”


Retrospectrum will run at the Frost Art Museum until April 17, 2022.