Bob Dylan is, as we know, a great storyteller. His sharp sense of awareness allows him to take ordinary, mundane details from daily life and translate them into evocative, experimental studies. The Drawn Blank Series is Bob Dylan’s most comprehensive and familiar body of visual work to date.
Dylan dates the origins of his work as a visual artist to the early 1960s. In his autobiographical Chronicles: Volume One (2004) he writes: “What would I draw? Well, I guess I would start with whatever was at hand. I sat at the table, took out a pencil and paper and drew the typewriter, a crucifix, a rose, pencils, knives and pins, empty cigarette boxes. I'd lose track of time completely.... Not that I thought I was any great drawer, but I did feel like I was putting an orderliness to the chaos around.’
Between 1989 and 1992, Dylan began to sketch, rapidly, in order to “relax and refocus a restless mind.” The drawings chronicled his life on the road: in between gigs, on trains, in cafés, backstage. A book of 92 drawings titled Drawn Blank followed in 1994. When Dylan drew the works in Drawn Blank, he had intended to create paintings based upon them. Years later, Ingrid Mössinger, curator of the Kunstsammlungen Museum, in Germany, proposed an exhibition which encouraged him to do this. "I was fascinated to learn of Ingrid's interest in my work, and it gave me the impetus to realize the vision I had for these drawings many years ago," Bob Dylan commented.