NY gallery celebrates 50th anniversary of Bob Dylan documentary

Still image from the documentary 'Don't Look Back.' ©D.A. Pennebaker

Still image from the documentary ‘Don’t Look Back.’ ©D.A. Pennebaker


NEW YORK – Morrison Hotel Gallery will present an exhibit that celebrates the 50th anniversary of D.A. Pennebaker’s documentary Don’t Look Back, which follows a young Bob Dylan emerging into worldwide prominence as the singer/songwriter of his generation. The exhibit of photographic prints from the film will open May 20 at the gallery at 116 Prince St., which specializes in fine art music photography.

Don’t Look Back, filmed in 1965 and released in 1967, reveals Dylan as vulnerable, fiery and grappling with the demands of the media and his fans while he struggles to push his artistry forward. Director D.A. Pennebaker is often described as the pre-eminent chronicler of ’60s counterculture.

The exhibit celebrates the 50-year anniversary of this iconic movie – a movie that brings together an already iconic artist and a filmmaker who was in the process of revolutionizing the documentary. The show is curated and produced by industry veteran Joseph Baldassare – in conjunction with Morrison Hotel Gallery – and has the distinction of being the first gallery exhibit of Pennebaker’s work.

The show features original movie posters and 18 choice image stills from the film, printed from the enhanced negative. Pennebaker, 90, will be at the opening reception, and to this day, he remains a vital cultural force. He recently screened his newest documentary, Unlocking the Cage, at the Sundance Film Festival, which will air on HBO later this year

“This exhibition at Morrison Hotel Gallery is a celebration of the artistry of both D.A Pennebaker and Bob Dylan – two pioneers that have shaped the way we see, hear and think,” said Baldassare.

Included in the exhibit are small editions of 10 prints of each that are signed and numbered by Pennebaker and available for purchase. Each purchased print includes a multiple image, original filmstrip from the Don’t Look Back film, in a specially designed protective sleeve. Several original movie posters, which are 50 years old, will be part of the exhibit and for sale as well. As a big treat for Dylan fans, Hohner Harmonicas has issued a signature series harmonica that is hand signed and played by Bob Dylan, and packaged in a handsome wooden case available for purchase at the exhibit.

The film Don’t Look Back chronicles Dylan’s 1965 tour of England and features a cast of characters including Joan Baez, Dylan’s manager Albert Grossman, his road manager Bob Neuwirth, Marianne Faithfull, John Mayall and Allen Ginsberg. It showcases a cocksure but charismatic young Dylan. It’s a culturally weighty documentary that shows Dylan’s impact on his peers, the press and offers glimpses into Dylan coming to terms with international stardom. It also includes stunning musical performance footage, including the groundbreaking music video for Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues.

The film made its public debut on May 17, 1967, at the Presidio Theater in San Francisco. In 1998, the United States National Film Registry recognized the film for its cultural significance. It has also been voted in the top 10 of many film documentary polls.

Says Pennebaker of the iconic film: “This exhibition is a tribute to a film that 50 years ago I couldn’t get theatrical distributors to sit through the second reel. Go figure.”

Pennebaker, is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of cinema verite filmmaking. In 2013, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized his body of work with an Oscar for lifetime achievement. Pennebaker’s work spans generations and cultural phenomena – from the legendary 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, to Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, to his current film, co-directed with Chris Hegedus, (his collaborator since the late ’70s), Unlocking the Cage, which follows animal rights lawyer Steven Wise and his lawsuit seeking personhood for a chimpanzee.