Dylan portraits exhibited in National Gallery

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Back in the 60s, Bob Dylan wrote a pithy little song called 'When I Paint My Masterpiece'. He is still waiting for that moment, at least on canvas, but the veteran songwriter will enjoy his most prestigious recognition as a painter with a new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

A series of 12 pastel portraits of real and fictional characters will be on display at the London gallery from August 24 through to January 2014. Dylan has been painting in earnest since the mid-60s when his famous motorcycle accident briefly interrupted his musical career.

Unsurprisingly his prowess as a painter never threatened to supersede his brilliance as a musician. Nevertheless, in recent years his work has been exhibited in galleries worldwide. His most recent London exhibition was at the Halcyon Gallery in 2008.

Sandy Nairne, the director of the National Portrait Gallery acknowledged that Dylan's musical fame was a contributory factor to his exhibition. "Bob Dylan is one of the most influential cultural figures of our time," Nairne said. "He has always created a highly visual world either with his words or music, or in paints and pastels."

Back at the day job, Dylan is about to release the latest collection of unreleased old material and outtakes. By now the Bootleg Series is up to Volume 10 - Another Self Portrait (1969-1971) and the law of diminishing returns may have set in, although that won't deter hardcore Dylan fans from rushing out to buy the collection.

The songs are drawn from the 1970 sessions that produced the albums New Morning and Self Portrait (the latter featuring one of Dylan's early paintings on the sleeve). At the time, the music was critically reviled. Rolling Stone critic Greil Marcus famously opened his review of Self Portrait with the succinct question "what is this shit?". Well, 43, years later, there's more of it.

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