NEW YORK.- Bob Dylans American Journey, 19561966, the first comprehensive exhibition devoted to Bob Dylans early career, is on view at The Morgan Library & Museum through January 6, 2007. The exhibition examines the critical ten-year period that coincides with Dylans transformation from folk troubadour to rock innovator during a momentous, turbulent period of American history. Bob Dylans American Journey, 19561966, is organized by Experience Music Project, Seattle, Washington.
The exhibition includes original typed and handwritten lyrics, rarely seen photographs, concert and television footage, posters and handbills of Dylans early performances in New York, and other artifacts. Several Dylan manuscripts and typescripts of lyrics from a selection of more than ninety songs given to The Morgan Library & Museum in the late 1990s by collector George Hecksher will also be on view. These include such well-known songs as Blowin in the Wind, Its Alright, Ma, Masters of War, Ballad in Plain D, and Gates of Eden.
Few would argue that Bob Dylan is a gifted songwriter whose work has had an important social and cultural impact in America and abroad, said Charles E. Pierce, Jr., Director of The Morgan Library & Museum. It has been said many times that his songs came to embody an entire generation. This exhibition examines his formative years, especially in New York, as he established his career and wrote some of his most critically acclaimed and best-known songs.
According to Robert Parks, who is the Robert H. Taylor Curator at The Morgan Library & Museum and is overseeing the exhibitions installation, throughout Dylans career many have regarded his lyrics as poetry. Most recently, the 2006 edition of The Oxford Book of American Poetry included Dylans Desolation Row from his 1965 album Highway 61 Revisited. In explaining its inclusion, David Lehman, poet and editor of the edition, observed that the lyrics in three of his record albums from the mid-1960sBringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blondeparticularly reward close analysis of the sort given to demanding examples of modern poetry.
Bob Dylans American Journey is curated by Jasen Emmons of Experience Music Project and traces Dylans personal and artistic development, beginning in postwar Hibbing, Minnesota, the industrial town where Robert Zimmerman (b. 1941) grew up as a store owners son inspired by early rock and roll. The exhibition follows Dylan to his debut on the national stage of the Greenwich Village folk sceneone of historys most fascinating intersections of art, politics, and lifestylethrough to his massive fame as one of the first true rock stars and the man who electrified contemporary songwriting. This ten-year span encompasses the release of some of Dylans seminal albums, including The Freewheelin Bob Dylan, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde.
The retrospective showcases a blend of more than one hundred fifty objects. In addition to those from The Morgan Library & Museum, there are items from the permanent collection of Experience Museum Project, the Bob Dylan Archives, the Smithsonian Museum of American History, the Civil Rights Museum, and private collections.
Few figures in contemporary American popular music have reached the status of Bob Dylan. His is a distinctly American body of work that follows in the footsteps of his early musical hero, folksinger Woody Guthrie, with links to Americas blues tradition, southern work songs, Anglo-American ballads, and early rock and roll.
The exhibition includes viewing stations with excerpts from several live Dylan performances and listening stations that allow visitors to hear various tracks from Dylan songs from the period in which he evolved from a little known folksinger to a rock-and-roll icon. These stations also include conversations with other musicians of the day relating to Dylan and the changing times.
There will be a variety of public programs during the run of the exhibition, including lectures by Greil Marcus, author of Mystery Train, Lipstick Traces, The Old Weird America: The World of Bob Dylans Basement Tapes, Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads, and the forthcoming (September) Shape of Things to Come: Prophecy and the American Voice; Sean Wilentz, winner of a 2006 Bancroft Prize, Pulitzer Prize nominee for his Rise of American Democracy, and Grammy nominee for his liner notes for the CBob Dylan Live 1964: Concert at Philharmonic Hall; architectural historian Barry Lewis on Bohemia Before Bob: The First Hipster Generation and How They Turned the Village into Americas First Bohemia; and a presentation by members of the creative team and cast for the upcoming Broadway musical, The Times They Are A-Changin, which is conceived, directed, and choreographed by Twyla Tharp and features Dylans songs.
Daniel Kramer, whose photographs of Bob Dylan are among the best known, will discuss photographing Dylan in 196465. A film series includes D. A. Pennebakers Dont Look Back, covering Dylan during a 1965 tour of England; Jim Browns A Vision Shared, chronicling the lives of Woody Guthrie and Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly) and including filmed performances of their songs by Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Emmylou Harris, and others; Martin Scorseses No Direction Home, tracing Dylans journey from his Minnesota home to Greenwich Village coffeehouses and his rise to fame; and Chuck Workmans The Source, about the lives of William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac and including readings of their works by Johnny Depp, Dennis Hopper, and John Turturro.
The George Hecksher Collection of Bob Dylan - Given to the Morgan in three installments from 1997 to 1999, the collection of manuscripts and typescripts includes lyrics for more than ninety songs. The lyrics are working drafts or early fair copies from the time of composition. They do not include musical notation, though many are annotated with guitar chords. The collection is especially rich in Dylans earliest songs, recorded from 1962 to 1966, including nine of the thirteen songs from the album The Freewheelin Bob Dylan (1963), nine of the ten songs from The Times They Are A-Changin (1964), ten of the eleven songs from Another Side of Bob Dylan (1964), and seven of the fourteen songs from Blonde on Blonde (1966). During the run of Bob Dylans American Journey, 19561966, selected sheets will be on view in the lobby of Gilder Lehrman Hall in conjunction with programs related to the exhibition.
Collecting and Exhibiting Works from the Twentieth Century at the Morgan Perhaps best known for its collections of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, early printed books, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literary and music manuscripts, and old master drawings, the Morgan has been steadily acquiring significant works and objects from the twentieth century. The gift of George Heckshers collection of Dylan manuscripts was concurrent with the arrival of the first installment of the Carter Burden Collection of American Literature, which is being given to the Morgan over time by the Burden family. Comprising the preeminent private collection of twentieth-century American literature in the United States, it includes books, letters, and manuscripts of many highly regarded authors.
The Morgan also acquired the archives of The Paris Review, the influential literary journal, for the years of George Plimptons editorship, 19532003. Of great significance to the study of twentieth-century art is the Pierre Matisse Gallery Archives, given by the