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Drawn Blank Hardcover – November 15, 1994
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From the Inside Flap
An extraodinary collection of drawings and sketches-of women, hotel rooms, cityscapes, and more-by the world's best-known singer-songwriter, each accompanied by a note or short poem.
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Top customer reviews
I was lucky to see the first exhibit of watercolors and goaches based on these drawings. I just happened to be in Berlin for the holidays when his work was being exhibted in Chemnitz, Germany, so we took the train to Chemnitz to view his work. Like his songs, his visual art can take many forms - being constantly alterd to see something differently through a change in color, size, or detail.
Since Chemnitz, he has done numerous paintings and watercolors based on these drawings, most of which have been exhibited sold in Great Britain by Halycon Gallery. He also did a Brazilian Series shown in Denmark and an Asian Series exhibited in New York. Most recently, he exhibited a set of modified magazine covers that he entitled Revisionist Art. While I can't afford to by his prints or originals, I have purchased all of the catalogs from these exhibits.
I just had to have a copy of the book of original drawings that inspired Ingrid Mossinger to offer to exhibit his finished works in Chemnitz. Her interest served as a catalyst to launch a prolific period for Dylan to complete and share some of his work in the visual arts.
This book is a must-have for anyone interested in Dylan's artistic work.
The book is not unlike any other coffee table book. I don't keep coffee table books on my coffee table but if I were to I would certainly put this fab book of art out fir my guests t enjoy and comment on but knowing my guests I can't cause it would lead them all t attempt impersonations of bob Dylan "how does it feeeeeel"
Overall a nice book of art.
The obvious question raised by a book like Drawn Blank is whether the drawings succeed on their own terms or simply function as pop culture fetishes. Drawn Blank seems to tackle this question by treating its material simply and straightforwardly, and with a minimum of hype: there is no text in the book other than Dylan's introduction; no information is given about who the drawings depict, where they were drawn, or when they were done. Perhaps like Dylan's well-known avoidance of stage patter, this is a way of trying to let the works speak for themselves and to maintain Dylan's privacy - and indirectly, to add to the mystery and glamour of the work, to make it more abstract.
The drawings in Drawn Blank show some of Dylan's conservative tendencies as well as his moral interests. In the introduction, he mentions a high school art teacher's advice to draw what you see "so that if you were at a loss for words, something could be explained and, even more importantly, not be misunderstood." While the drawings show Dylan's attempts to "get at something other than the world we know" through drawing from observation, viewed in the context of his music, they are somewhat disappointing - they don't show the same range of imagery and are not as involved with metaphor as his songwriting. They are functional; like Dylan says, a way for him to "relax and refocus a restless mind." Some of the most interesting drawings in Drawn Blank are those where earlier drawings are visible underneath later ones - what may be a skull, barely visible underneath a still life; a cross that says "Jesus Saves" underneath a drawing of a neighborhood seen through a window; a figure showing through a drawing of a tree. The style of many of the drawings has an effect like that of Dylan's singing voice or his harmonica playing - gratingly smudgy, apparently unschooled, but with a stubborn integrity that can grow on you. They are as uncommercial a bunch of drawings as one might see, sent into the world to see if anything might happen as a result.
Drawn Blank's "On the Road"-like pictures of rural America, roadside stops, dressing rooms, cars and trucks, bicycles, playground equipment, tables and chairs, naked women's butts, and friends make no great claims for themselves. The drawings offer an intimate look at another way Dylan views the world, and offer a way of vicariously traveling with Bob in a way that is unavailable through performances and recordings. Dylan's straight-ahead effort to experience and understand the world through drawing helps to make Drawn Blank appealing. At the same time, Dylan uses drawing to maintain his distance, to create some private space in the middle of the commercial and very public world he occupies. In Drawn Blank, Dylan's artwork, like his music, gives him a way of both capturing private experience and offering that experience publicly, as a gift.
(adapted from a review first published in Texte zur Kunst, August 1995)