Young man in a black hat playing guitar and harmonica

Bob Dylan (detail) by John Cohen / 1962, Gelatin silver print / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Celebrate: Bob Dylan

Portrait on view October 17, 2016 - October 30, 2016
First floor

The Nobel Prize committee broke with precedent—and recognized those who make it new—by awarding the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature to Bob Dylan. The prize will surprise, and perhaps anger, some. It will delight many. Dylan’s career has been a constant series of surprises, reversals, and new directions, from his roots as a New York “folkie,” channeling Woody Guthrie, to his fascination with the Old Testament. Most famously, in 1965 he turned everything upside down by marrying his deeply rooted poetic lyrics to the sonic power of the electric guitar.

The Prize Committee cited Dylan “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” That song tradition itself originated deep in the past with the medieval troubadours who fused word and music in their encounters with their life and times;  honoring Dylan, America’s troubadour, takes us full circle to poetry’s origins.

To commemorate the accomplishments of this singer and songwriter, a photograph taken by John Cohen in 1962 will be installed in the museum’s “Celebrate” space on the first floor, Monday, October 17.

  • Young man playing guitar and harmonica in a darkened space
    Bob Dylan by  John Cohen / 1962, Gelatin silver print / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
  • Bob Dylan / by Milton Glaser / 1966, Color photolithographic poster with halftone / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution