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Getty Museum book links Dylan's lyrics with Ensor's painting

September 29, 1999
Web posted at: 3:22 p.m. EDT (1922 GMT)

View some paintings from the book

Listen to a clip of Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row"
[280k MPEG-3] or [385k WAV]

(Courtesy Columbia Records)


(CNN) -- The J. Paul Getty Museum has brought the works of two artists working in different media and created nearly 80 years apart together in a new book entitled "The Superhuman Crew."

Getty Senior Editor John Harris combined the lyrics of Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row" and painter James Ensor's "Christ's Entry into Brussels in 1889."

"No painting at the Getty is bigger or more complex than Ensor's painting ... But we needed a new concept, some sort of text to go with the pictures. I thought, 'Well, maybe a poem.' The problem was the painting is so overwhelming -- it's a huge painting -- what poem could hold its own with these powerful images? I have a fondness for Dylan, and I thought: Well, what about 'Desolation Row?'" Harris said.

Ensor was born in Belgium in 1860. Most of his work is colorful and expresses a satirical look at the world. "Christ's Entry into Brussels in 1889," according to the Getty, is considered to be his masterpiece. The piece shocked viewers when it was painted in 1888 and was not publicly exhibited until 1929.

Dylan released "Desolation Row" on his 1965 album "Highway 61 Revisited." The book includes a CD with Dylan's recording of the song as well as a reproduction of Ensor's painting.

"Both the painting and the lyric have so many characters and a mixture of the real and the made up. They share this love of the grotesque, the macabre, this kind of ghastly sense of humor about modern life," said Harris.

"The Superhuman Crew" will be available in October.

Previous visits to the cafe:
American history retold through letters, documents, articles & speeches
September 17, 1999
Book traces the evolution of how we measure the universe
September 13, 1999
Learning from aging and life's lessons
August 20, 1999
Finding heaven on earth in a quarter-hour
Augst 4, 1999
Francis Bacon: A Retrospective
July 28, 1999
'The Learn2 Guide: Burp a Baby, Carve a Turkey and 108 Other Things You Should Know How to Do'
June 11, 1999

The J. Paul Getty Museum
  • The Superhuman Crew
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