Bob Dylan at the Palazzo Reale, Milan

1 Feb 2013

5 February 2013 – 10 March 2013

Dylan, arguably America’s greatest living musician, has long been inspired by the place that gave birth to jazz music (the album ‘Highway 61 Revisited’ was named after the road that led from his home in Minnesota to the city). So it’s no surprise that in his later incarnation as a celebrated painter, New Orleans should prove to be his muse once again.

“There are a lot of places I like, but I like New Orleans better,” wrote Bob Dylan in the first volume of his seminal autobiography Chronicles.

“New Orleans,” he goes on, “unlike a lot of those places you go back to and that doesn’t have the magic anymore, has still has got it.”

This is Dylan’s second exhibition in Italy, curated by Francesco Bonami, one of the most well respected curators and art critics of his time. Bonami’s curating career includes a major Jeff Koons retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and The Venice and Whitney Biennales. The series of 23 paintings, entitled New Orleans, pays homage to the American home of blues and jazz. Dylan’s works tell the story of this fascinating city showing decadent and dramatic scenes set in the 1940s and 1950s featuring portraits and nudes.

“Night can swallow you up, yet none of it touches you. Around any corner, there’s a promise of something daring and ideal and things are just getting going. There’s something obscenely joyful behind every door, either that or somebody crying with their head in their hands… No action seems inappropriate here. The city is one very long poem.”

Dylan has been an influential figure in music and culture for over five decades. The exhibition is now open at the Palazzo Reale in Milan, the Royal Palace that once held the city’s government, but now hosts major exhibitions including artists Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso.