This month, Nobel Prize-winning songwriter, musician, and artist Bob Dylan has unveiled his first monumental sculpture "Rail Car" - a site-specific ironwork sculpture installed at the Château La Coste in Provence, France. The permanent sculpture is an immersive ironwork freight car installation set on train tracks, engaging prominent motifs in Dylan’s art and drawing upon aspects of Dylan's past. As Dylan describes in his Chronicles: Volume One, "I’d seen and heard trains from my earliest childhood days and the sight and sound of them always made me feel secure. The big boxcars, the iron ore cars, freight cars, passenger trains, Pullman cars. There was no place you could go in my hometown without at least some part of the day having to stop at intersections and wait for the long trains to pass".
The repurposed freight car that Dylan has integrated into the sculpture is a WIIX 723 double-door boxcar used to transport paper rolls for Willamette Industries, a timber and paper company based in Oregon. The making of "Rail Car" began in the summer of 2019 and involved engineering teams in both France and the United States. The artwork was first created in Los Angeles and then disassembled, crated, and shipped to France to be installed onsite at Château La Coste.
The unveiling of "Rail Car" will coincide with an exhibition featuring 24 of Dylan's paintings, entitled "Drawn Blank in Provence", running from 9 May to 15 August in Château La Coste's Renzo Piano-designed art gallery. Moreover, Dylan’s first painting exhibition in France presents the artist's work in a new context, highlighting novel aspects of his artistic practice. The unseen canvases are based on drawings Dylan originally made while on touch in Europe and America between 1989 and 1991.
Alongside Dylan's paintings, artworks by Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, and Marc Chagall - masters of twentieth-century modern art whose practice was greatly influenced by their time in the South of France - will also be exhibited. The exhibition, which will be accompanied by commentary from leading art historian, theoretician, educator, and director of the Hunter College Galleries, Joachim Pissarro, reveals the influence of these pioneering artists on Dylan's "The Drawn Blank" series (2008–2013). There will also be a focus display of a large-scale triptych, created by the artist in 2021, installed in the Richard Rogers drawing gallery from 9 May to 5 June, to run alongside the unveiling of "Rail Car".
Bob Dylan, 1977. Photo by Randee St Nicholas.
About Bob Dylan
Although internationally known as a songwriter, recording artist and performer, Bob Dylan is also an author, film director, actor, radio host and visual artist. One of the most influential and, at times, controversial figures in the music of the past five decades, he has sold over 125 million records worldwide and performs nearly 100 concerts around the world each year.
Born in Duluth, Minnesota, on 24 May 1941, Bob Dylan was originally named Robert Allen Zimmerman. The family relocated to Hibbing and Dylan went to the University of Minnesota in 1959, leaving school after a year to pursue a career in music. Moving to New York in 1961, he began to play at various clubs and signed with Columbia Records. The following year he released his first album.
The public first became aware of Dylan’s interest in art when a few of his paintings appeared on album covers for The Band’s Music from Big Pink (1968) and his own Self Portrait (1970). A book of 92 drawings titled Drawn Blank was published in 1994, and exhibitions of reworked versions of these images were mounted at the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz in Germany in 2007 and the following year at Halcyon Gallery in London.
Dylan’s work as a visual artist has been featured in his Drawn Blank Series, Asia Series, Brazil Series and New Orleans Series and has been exhibited in such prestigious locations as the Accademia Albertina delle Belle Arti in Turin, Italy, the Asahi Exhibition Centre in Roppongi, Tokyo, Copenhagen’s Statens Museum for Kunst and the Palazzo Reale in Milan. In August 2013, Bob Dylan: Face Value was exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, commented: ‘Bob Dylan is one of the most influential cultural figures of our time. He has always created a highly visual world either with his words or music or in paints and pastels.’
Mood Swings, a major exhibition of ironwork by Dylan, opened at Halcyon Gallery in November 2013. Heralding the first public showing of the artist’s iron works – seven gates created from vintage iron and other metal parts – the sculptures reveal the artist’s lifelong fascination with welding and metalwork. The major exhibition The Beaten Path opened in 2016 and marked an extraordinary turning point in Dylan’s visual art career. According to Jonathan Jones, art critic at the Guardian, ‘A real artist made these drawings and paintings. Their integrity is compelling. They demand to be looked at, for their awe and wonder at the beauty and grandeur of being alive. These are the pictures of a true poet.’ A truly unprecedented body of work, Mondo Scripto, opened at Halcyon Gallery in October 2018, presenting a selection of Dylan’s most iconic songs, handwritten in pen on paper and accompanied by a corresponding drawing.
In his seventh decade as a world-renowned artist, Dylan remains restlessly creative. In 2019 a landmark retrospective exhibition, Retrospectrum, opened at MAM Shanghai, before beginning a tour that covered Asia, Europe and the USA. In November 2021, Retrospectrum opened at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum, Miami, where more than 120 of Dylan’s paintings, drawings and sculptures were exhibited in the USA for the first time. The exhibition embodies what American author Bill Flanagan describes as Dylan’s ‘indomitable will’; from the start, ‘Dylan has been a man of vision and a man on a mission.
About Château La Coste
Situated in Provence in southern France between the historical city of Aix-En-Provence and the LuberonNational Park, Château La Coste is a unique destination, offering guests and visitors an abundance of experiences. The estate boasts an Art and Architecture Centre, a 200-hectare wine estate, four restaurants and a luxury hotel Villa La Coste in the heart of the unspoiled natural countryside in Provencenear Aix-en-Provence. With 40 major works of contemporary art installed permanently in the open air and five gallery spaces Château La Coste has welcomed many renowned artists and architects to be inspired by the stunning estate and tranquil environment to create unique works of art. The extensive rollcall of visiting artists includes Tadao Ando and Sophie Calle, Richard Serra, Tracey Emin and PaulMatisse, and each artist has left their mark on this unique location as it continues to evolve.
Address: Château La Coste, 2750 route de la Cride, 13610, Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun, 12pm-5pm
The Art Centre: Mon-Sun, 10am-7pm
All images are courtesy of the artist and BLJ London
Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.
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