Another Side of Bob Dylan: Photographs from the Douglas R. Gilbert Collection

Lake Ontario Hall Wall Gallery, Allendale Campus
July 7 - December 15, 2023

Richard M. DeVos Center Wall Gallery, Robert C. Pew Grand Rapids Campus
January 5 - June 28, 2024

detail of proof sheet of Bob Dylan photographs

Douglas R. Gilbert, Bob Dylan Look Magazine Photo Proof Sheet (detail), The Douglas R. and Barbara E. Gilbert Collection

Widely regarded as one of the most influential songwriters of all time, Bob Dylan was still relatively unknown in the summer of 1964 when twenty-one-year-old photographer Douglas R. Gilbert photographed him. On assignment for Look magazine, Gilbert spent time with Dylan at his home in Woodstock, New York, in Greenwich Village, and at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island. The photographs, which were never published because the editors declared Dylan “too scruffy for a family magazine,” show the up-and-coming folk singer in casual settings with friends at a pivotal point in his career.

I think I was with him in the period before he closed himself off from the press and withdrew. I saw some wonderful moments of warmth, humor, and openness. The image of Dylan I held before we met and after my experiences with him was changed. I’ve thought about that time over the intervening years and see him to be, in some ways, very consistent in spite of his reputation for frequently reinventing himself. – Douglas R. Gilbert, Forever Young, Photographs of Bob Dylan, 2005

That same summer Dylan recorded and released his fourth studio album, Another Side of Bob Dylan, which already began to depart from his more socially conscious folk style. Later that year, he started to transition to electric guitar and pop music, and over the next two years, he would record three of the most important rock albums of the 1960s (Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde). Gilbert’s photographs document an intimate moment in Dylan’s life and a time when his music and career undertook a radical transformation. Drawn from Grand Valley State University’s (GVSU) collection, this exhibition includes 27 of Gilbert’s photographs and proof sheets from that assignment, part of his entire photographic collection that he donated to GVSU in 2018.

About the Artist

Douglas R. Gilbert had been a serious photographer since the age of fourteen. When he was twenty-one, he joined the staff of Look magazine in New York as the second youngest photojournalist in the magazine’s history. A few years later, Gilbert left Look to work as a freelance photographer in Chicago and pursue a graduate degree at the Institute of Design. Upon completion of his degree, he taught at Wheaton College for a decade, and since then, became a licensed therapist while actively pursuing his professional photography.

Over a career spanning five decades, Gilbert has exhibited his images in many galleries and museums. In addition, he has been published in five books and had work included in countless national and international publications such as LIFE, The Saturday Evening Post, and Glamour. Gilbert’s photographs are in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena CA, and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, as well as in many private and institutional collections. In 2018, a comprehensive collection of his life’s work was donated to the Grand Valley State University Art Gallery and Special Collections & University Archives.

(The GVSU Art Gallery sends its condolences to the Gilbert family and friends on Douglas' recent passing on June 18, 2023)

Interview with photographer Douglas Gilbert

Hear from Douglas Gilbert, about his assignment photographing Bob Dylan in 1964.

photograph of Bob Dylan and friends sitting in a kitchen

Douglas R. Gilbert, "Breakfast with Friends" Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, Al Aronowitz and son Myles, Woodstock, New York, 1964, 2018.48.832a, The Douglas R. and Barbara E. Gilbert Collection

In 1962, Dylan signed a management contract with Albert Grossman, who managed many of the most popular and successful folk and folk-rock musicians of the time. Grossman allowed Dylan to stay with him at his house in Woodstock. In this photograph, Gilbert captures an intimate moment at breakfast in Grossman’s kitchen between Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, and journalist Al Aronowitz and his son Myles. Later that summer, Aronowitz would introduce Dylan to the Beatles, who were already a heavy influence on Dylan’s change in appearance and musical style.

Photograph of Bob Dylan seated at desk with typewriter

Douglas R. Gilbert, Bob Dylan at Typewriter in Workroom Above the Café Espresso, Woodstock, New York, 1964, 2018.48.827, The Douglas R. and Barbara E. Gilbert Collection

Gilbert photographed Dylan working on liner notes in what was known as the “white room” above Café Espresso on Tinker Street in Woodstock. These notes were for his next album Another Side of Bob Dylan, that was released in August 1964, a few months after this photograph was taken. The forthcoming album was a departure from Dylan’s typical folk rhetoric and has become known as a transitional album.

Bob Dylan performing at the Newport Folk Festival

Douglas R. Gilbert, Bob Dylan Nighttime Performance at Newport Folk Festival, Newport, Rhode Island, 1964, 2018.48.853, The Douglas R. and Barbara E. Gilbert Collection

First held in 1959, the Newport Folk Festival was one of the first modern music festivals in the United States. By the time Dylan performed there in the summer of 1963 he was the leading songwriter of American folk music. The following summer Dylan returned, and Gilbert took photographs of him performing there.

Even though Dylan played songs from his new album, which was moving away from folk rhetoric, he was still well received at the festival in 1964. He played in the afternoon and evening, closing on the final night by singing a duet with the singer, songwriter Joan Baez. In 1965 he returned to the festival and played his first electric concert featuring folk rock music from his latest album. It was met with both cheers and boos from the audience.

Bob Dylan on a motorcycle

Douglas R. Gilbert, Bob Dylan on a Triumph in the alley out back of the Café Espresso, Woodstock, New York, 1964, 2018.48.831a, The Douglas R. and Barbara E. Gilbert Collection

Over the second half of 1964, Dylan started changing his wardrobe from that of a folk singer with jeans and work shirts, to that of an edgier folk-rock star with sunglasses, black clothing, pointed boots, and unkept hair. In this photograph of Dylan sitting on a Triumph Bonneville motorcycle behind Café Espresso, this change seems evident.

Dylan spent a lot of time at Café Espresso, which drew many folk singers and had become a cultural anchor in the town of Woodstock, New York.

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Lake Ontario Hall Wall Gallery
Lake Ontario Hall, Allendale Campus
4023 Calder Dr
Allendale, MI 49401

For directions and parking information visit


For special accommodation, please call:
(616) 331-3638

For exhibition details and media inquires, please email:
Joel Zwart, Curator of Exhibitions
[email protected]

For learning and engagement opportunities, please email [email protected].

Page last modified August 24, 2023