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Endless Highway, BobDylan,  2015-2016

Francesca Lombardi

December 13, 2022

The art of Bob Dylan on show at MAXXI in Rome

A beautiful journey through works as powerful as his songs

An icon of contemporary culture, always on the lookout for new stimuli even now when he’s over 80, Bob Dylan has never hidden his love for art. MAXXI is dedicating Bob Dylan: Retrospectrum, an exhibition that brings together his expansive visual oeuvre, to an unexpected aspect of the most famous minstrel of all time,

a portrait of Bob Dylan by Ken Regan

References to art are a constant in the lyrics which won him the Nobel Prize for Literature - songs like Visions of Johanna (1966) or Jokerman (1983) deliberately cite Leonardo da Vinci’s Giaconda, and artists of the calibre of Michelangelo. When I Paint My Masterpiece (1971) even talks about a presumed nephew of Botticelli who promises to stay close by the protagonist of the piece while he paints his masterpiece in Rome.  With his hallmark wit, Dylan then called one of his best-known works as a painter, a depiction of the Spanish Steps, When I Paint My Masterpiece. The picture has now returned close to the place that inspired it, and is a piece de resistance of this gigantic exhibition housed from mid-December until 30 April 2023 in the rooms of the MAXXI in Rome. The over 100 works on display include paintings, watercolours, pencil and ink drawings, metal sculptures and video material that explore Bob Dylan’s more than 60 years of creative activity.  Bob Dylan himself said “It’s very gratifying to know that my visual works are exhibited at MAXXI, Rome: a very special museum in one of the world’s most beautiful and inspiring cities.

Corner Café, Bob Dylan 2021

This exhibition aims to offer different points of view, which examine the human condition and explore those mysteries of life that continue to perplex us. It’s very different from my music, of course, but it has the same intent”.  Fondazione MAXXI President Giovanna Melandri adds “With this exhibition, we have the privilege of discovering an unprecedented aspect of his inexhaustible talent: his paintings, like his songs, are powerful, sincere, immediate, they evoke journeys and experiences on the road. Dylan is a piece of our history and a part of us”.


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