Bob Dylan Exhibition in Cuba Organized by Govinda Gallery and Presented by Fototeca de Cuba

by Chris Murray on February 27, 2017

Bob Dylan catching a taxi in Greenwich Village, 1964. © Ted Russell. “Positively 4th Street,” 1964. © Ted Russell.

Bob Dylan is the subject of a compelling photography exhibition in Cuba at their national photo gallery, Fototeca de Cuba. Bob Dylan NYC 1961-1964, featuring the photographs of Ted Russell, opens on Friday, March 24th in Havana. The exhibition will continue through April 24th. This groundbreaking exhibition is the first in Cuba to depict the legendary musical artist who was recently awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Ted Russell’s photographs document scenes from Dylan’s first year in New York City in 1961. When Russell began photographing Bob Dylan in Greenwich Village, the up-and-coming folk singer’s first album had not yet been released.

Bob Dylan performing at Gerde's Folk City in Greenwich Village, 1961. © Ted Russell. Bob Dylan performing at Gerde’s Folk City in Greenwich Village, 1961. © Ted Russell.

In 1963, Russell photographed Dylan at the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee’s annual Bill of Rights Dinner, where he was being awarded the prestigious Tom Paine Award. Ted Russell photographed James Baldwin with Dylan at the dinner where, in his acceptance speech, Dylan acknowledged “all the young people” who were traveling to Cuba at that time.

Russell photographed Dylan in his apartment again in 1964, at which point Dylan had already transformed popular music with songs like Blowin’ in the Wind, Masters of War, and The Times They Are A-Changin.’ In a series of stunning images from that day, Russell photographed Dylan writing at his desk. After 50 years lying largely dormant in a file cabinet, this unique collection has been brought to light in Bob Dylan NYC 1961-1964 (Rizzoli 2015). The book includes texts by Ted Russell and Chris Murray, and a foreword by Donovan.

Chris Murray, exhibition curator and co-author of the accompanying book, writes: “This collection of photographs by Ted Russell is a unique document of Dylan’s first years as a musical artist in Greenwich Village. In the photographs, as in Dylan’s music, we can see his conviction and compassion, his humor, and his love of song. We are enriched by this portrait of the artist as a young man.”

Bob Dylan and Suze Rotolo in their New York City apartment, 161 W 4th St. Bob Dylan and Suze Rotolo in their New York City apartment, 161 W 4th St., 1961. © Ted Russell.

Launch: Friday, March 24th, 6-9 p.m.
Fototeca de Cuba, Mercaderes 307, Plaza Vieja, La Habana Vieja, Cuba.
Admission is free.

About Ted Russell, the photographer:
Ted Russell is an American photographer and photojournalist whose work has appeared on the covers of Life, Newsweek, Time, and New York magazines, to name only a few. Born in London, he worked in Fleet St, Brussels and Frankfurt before moving to New York. Drafted into the US Army, he served as unit photographer in the Korean War. After attending the University of California at Berkeley, he returned to New York and became a regular contributing photographer for Life for over 12 years, and he was later Cover Photo Editor of Newsweek for 11 years. Russell has won numerous awards, and his work has been exhibited at the International Center of Photography and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

About Chris Murray, the curator:
Chris Murray is the founder and director of Govinda Gallery in Washington, D.C., which represents many of the best fine art photographers and photojournalists in the world who have documented musical artists. Murray has organized over 250 exhibitions of many of the leading artists of our time, from Andy Warhol in the 1970s to Annie Leibovitz’s first exhibition in 1984. He is co-curator of the Smithsonian Institution’s exhibition Elvis at 21 and is the author of over fifteen books on visual culture, including Alfred Wertheimer’s Elvis and the Birth of Rock and Roll (Taschen 2016); The Rolling Stones 50×20 (Insight Editions 2012) and Patti Smith: American Artist (Insight Editions 2006).

About Fototeca de Cuba, the gallery:
The mission of Fototeca de Cuba is to contribute, through systematic and specialized work, to the development and appreciation of Cuban photography, as a way of expressing Cuban national culture; to preserve, promote, exhibit and divulge the photographic heritage that the institution contains in its collection as well as the various manifestations of Cuban photography, attending to the simultaneity of its values in its documentary, testimonial, historical and artistic aspects; both in Cuba and internationally. Likewise, it has the mission of bringing the public closer through various communicative strategies, cultural promotion, etc. and showing the best values of international photography in Cuba, favoring the learning and appreciation of photography among photographers and the general public.

“Here’s something you simply can’t miss: a sublime Bob Dylan exhibition . . . it’s an enriching experience and one we can’t recommend highly enough.”
-Hot Press

Special thanks to Fototeca de Cuba for hosting this exhibition. Bob Dylan NYC 1961-1964 is part of an ongoing collaboration between Fototeca de Cuba and Govinda Gallery.

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