Mixed-up confusion as Dylan is accused of plagiarising photos

  • @guyadams

Bob Dylan is facing some awkward questions after it emerged that several of the paintings in his latest art exhibition were copied from photographs that he found on the internet.

The freewheeling musician's show, at the fashionable Gagosian gallery in New York, was billed when it opened last week as a journal of his travels in Asia, containing "first-hand depictions of people, street scenes, architecture and landscape" that he encountered.

It has since emerged, however, that more than half of the 18 oil paintings in the show were direct copies of photos that any would-be artist can find in a few seconds on Google.

One is based on an image Henri Cartier-Bresson captured in 1948; another, called "Opium", replicates a Leon Busy shot from 1915.

Others are copied from old issues of Life magazine. Several more were cribbed from an account on the photo-sharing website Flikr belonging to a user called "Okinawa Soba".

In comments on his site, "Soba" notes that a Dylan painting called "Shanghai" was actually copied from a photograph he had taken in Guangzhou.

Strangely, Dylan chose not to attribute the original sources of his work when the Asia Series exhibition opened on 20 September.

In an interview to publicise the show, he claimed: "I paint mostly from real life. It has to start with that."

The Gagosian's official catalogue claims: "A keen observer, Dylan is inspired by everyday phenomena in such a way that they appear fresh, new, and mysterious."

Amid growing rumbles about plagiarism, the gallery yesterday declined to tell i how much it is selling Dylan's paintings for.