David Bowie is explores the creative processes of David Bowie as a musical innovator and cultural icon, tracing his shifting style and sustained reinvention across five decades. The exhibition also focuses on Bowie’s collaborative work with artists and designers, and demonstrates how his work has both influenced and been influenced by wider movements in art, design, music, and theatre.
The exhibition brings together more than 300 objects, including photography, album artwork, handwritten lyrics, original costumes, set designs, and rare performance material from the past five decades from the David Bowie Archive. “David Bowie is” takes an in-depth look at how David Bowie’s music and radical individualism has inspired others to challenge convention and pursue freedom of expression.
The main focus is on the diversity of David Bowie’s work and the close interplay of various disciplines and modes of expression. His music and radical individualism were not only influenced by movements in art, fashion, design and contemporary culture, but Bowie left his own mark on them as well.
The exhibition “David Bowie is” retraces the career of this exceptional artist in great detail – from David Robert Jones’ early years as a young London artist until he became the global superstar Bowie.
On display are more than 60 pieces of stage attire including Ziggy Stardust bodysuits (1972) designed by Freddie Buretti; Kansai Yamamoto’s flamboyant creations for the Aladdin Sane tour (1973); and the Union Jack coat designed by Bowie and Alexander McQueen for the Earthling album cover (1997).
Also on view is photography by Brian Duffy, Terry O’Neill, and Masayoshi Sukita; album sleeve artwork by Guy Peellaert and Edward Bell; cover proofs by Barnbrook for the album The Next Day (2013); visual excerpts from films and live performances, including The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) and Saturday Night Live (1979); music videos such as Boys Keep Swinging (1979) and Let’s Dance (1983); and set designs created for the Diamond Dogs tour (1974).
Alongside these are more personal items such as never before-seen storyboards, handwritten set lists and lyrics, as well as some of Bowie’s own sketches, musical scores, and writings, revealing the evolution of his creative ideas.
Victoria Broackes, Geoffrey Marsh