Bob Dylan: Face Value and Beyond is the culmination of efforts by Gilcrease Museum in partnership with The Bob Dylan Center℠ to create a temporary home for the center’s collection until its opening in the Tulsa Arts District in 2021. This exhibition offers an array of fresh avenues to explore the many facets of Bob Dylan’s artistry, featuring the first regional showing of Dylan’s renowned Face Value portrait series from the Jenny Norton and Bob Ramsey collection, as well as drawings, filmed performances, writings, personal effects and ephemera exclusive to the archive.
Bob Dylan, a once-in-a-generation artist, remains one of America’s most influential and important cultural figures. With more than 500 songs, 50 albums and 110 million record sales to his name, Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016 “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” In recent years, Dylan has publicly turned to another mode of artistic expression; one that has occupied him throughout his life, but whose commitment has intensified in the last decade. Dylan, now in his seventies, has sketched and drawn since childhood and began painting in a surreal style in the late 1960s, though only recently has he begun to exhibit his artworks.
The twelve pastel portraits of the Face Value series represent Bob Dylan’s first public foray into portraiture, having debuted at London’s National Portrait Gallery in 2013 and shown in the United States only briefly in 2015. They offer the viewer encounters with strangers “done on the run,” as Dylan remarked, “mostly from inspiration and luck with transportable set ups. The source material is all real with a bit of fiction thrown in. The process changes anyway from minute to minute.”
In addition, the exhibition features archival manuscripts and objects exclusive to The Bob Dylan Archive®, including hand-written lyrics to some of the artist’s best-known songs that reveal a glimpse into Dylan’s creative process through the artist’s many visible edits. The exhibition includes numerous elements spanning five decades, including two silent Andy Warhol-directed “Screen Tests” of Dylan, the leather jacket worn by the artist at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 when he famously unveiled his new electric sound and a wallet and address book from the mid-1960s that contain a number of personal references and effects.
Bob Dylan: Face Value and Beyond offers an opportunity to explore the drawings of Face Value anew, within the larger context of items from Dylan’s personal archive in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Part gallery exhibition, part exploration of the archive itself, the works on display will show how the public and private nature of Dylan’s art are often closely linked and part of the same furtive, exploratory mind.