• David Bowie
  • David Bowie
  • David Bowie
  • David Bowie
  • David Bowie
images in courtesy of V&A Museum - David Bowie is.
Album Cover Shoot for Aladdin Sane 1973 Photograph by Brian Duffy. Duffy archive
David Bowie and William Burroughs 1974 Photograph by Terry Oneill courtesy of The David Bowie archive 2012


    12 April 2013

    By Katja Schmolka


    For four decades, David Bowie has been driven by the ecstatic momentum of his creation. His courage and experimental freedom of spirit have given him what most people only dream of: self-fulfillment – in the highest creative craze.

    The V&A in London has been given free access to David Bowie’s most sacred archive for an exhibition curated by Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh. They have selected more than 300 historic pieces and arranged them in a harmonious composition in the rooms of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Handwritten lyrics, original costumes, fashion, photography, film, music videos, set designs, and David Bowie’s personal instruments and album artwork are displayed in several exhibition rooms. The retrospective allows us a peek into the prodigious creative work of one of the most brilliant artists of our time, who, with his love of peaceful expression, inspired so many others to follow his lead.

    Painted bodysuits, eye liner, lipstick, and earrings: David Bowie’s iconic 1970s look caused sensations. Not nearly enough for Bowie, however. Fascinated by Stanley Kubrick’s film “A Space Odyssey” and the first moon landing, Bowie created the science-fiction character Ziggy Stardust, an androgynous personage from outer space impersonated and brought to life by Bowie himself. For some time and throughout several albums, Ziggy Stardust rocked the stage and gave intergalactic interviews, talking about, for instance, his belief in god. Bowie’s performances and his multifaceted artistic oeuvre helped propel the era of glam rock in the 1970s to a new level of hype that left lasting marks on society, fashion, art, music, and, more than anything else, popular culture. David Bowie’s intellectual approach to art and spirituality vividly dissolved fossilized traditions, making room for space and inspiration.

    Born David Robert Jones in the late 1940s, he grew up in post-war Brixton, South London. His older brother – and role model – introduced him to London’s youth culture, rock music, literature, and theater. This fascinating mix of genres would be part of David Bowie’s life for many years to come.

    While music has always been a great part of David Bowie’s life, who was the lead singer of several bands, he also turned his attention to the dramatic arts, having been mesmerized by their means of expression for a long time. In the late 1960s, Bowie formed his own mime troupe, Feathers. Even by that time, radical individualism had become his signature feature, later to be seen in his movies, for example “Labyrinth,” and his music video performances. Bowie – aptly dubbed “The Chameleon” – reinvented himself in each and every decade of his creative work. He teamed up with some of the greatest designers, including Freddie Burretti (Ziggy Stardust bodysuit, 1972), Kansai Yamamoto (Aladdin Sane tour, 1973), and Alexander McQueen (Union Jack coat for the “Earthling” album cover, 1997). Fashion photos by Herb Ritts, Helmut Newton, and John Rowlands capture the magical moments of Bowie’s self-dramatization and project them into our world, along with all the futuristic costumes, personal music instruments, short films, and compositions. His single “The Stars (Are Out Tonight),” starring Tilda Swinton, came out on the exact date of this 66th birthday in January as a surprise for his most devoted fans. Once again, David Bowie shows us the true meaning of coolness and style.

    David Bowie lives in New York with his family.

    David Bowie is on view at V&Museum, London 23 March - 11 August 2013

    David Bowie - Five Years
    BBC Two will broadcast a feature length profile of the legendary David Bowie released in May 2013 for the first time on British television.

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