Musical genius. Poet. Song and dance man. Bob Dylan has been called all these things, and more. To many people, he is the single most important recording artist of the twentieth century. He attracts an obsessive following. Never mind the countless official recordings, bootleg collections can fill entire walls, as can Dylan biographies and critical studies.
We’ve been planning a specific Dylan exhibition for a long time. It has taken many months to pull together material from all the photographers whose work will be on show. These men and women are some of the most respected exponents of the rock photography genre. Fred W McDarrah, Barry Feinstein, Daniel Kramer, Jerry Schatzberg, Art Kane, Elliott Landy, Ken Regan, Jean-Marie Perier, Amalie R Rothschild, Don Hunstein and others have, between them, created some of the most vital and enduring photographs of Dylan in this key early period. Many of them have never shown their images in the UK before. It is a particular pleasure to gather together such a comprehensive exhibition of Dylan photography and we are proud to be able to host it here in Birmingham.
During the period covered by this exhibition,1961 to 1975, Dylan’s music underwent a seismic shift. Radical visual changes in his personal appearance, clothing, hair and demeanour over these years went hand in hand with this musical transformation, and are as equally as drastic and fascinating. His hair during his mid sixties electric phase is a prime example – it’s as wild as the sounds from that period.
The exhibition coincides with the publication of a number of new Bob Dylan books: most significantly Volume 1 of Dylan’s much anticipated autobiography, Chronicles. Everything in the exhibition will be for sale and there is no charge for admission. No prizes for guessing what music we’ll be playing. Visitors will also be able to buy some of the great Dylan photography books that have been published over the years. The title for this exhibition, “Keep Your Eyes Wide”, comes from a line in The Times They Are A-Changin’. It will be a very special show.