“David Bowie is”: A Moving Exhibit

By on March 28, 2015

The “David Bowie is” exhibition, the first international retrospective of Bowie’s incredible career, is currently at the Philharmonie de Paris/ Cité de la Musique, Paris, France until May 31st. Have a look at this clip above (it’s in French!).

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The exhibit contains over 300 objects including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, photography, set designs, album artwork and rare performance material from the past five decades, all brought together from the David Bowie Archive for the very first time. The exhibition demonstrates how Bowie’s work has both influenced — and been influenced by — wider movements in art, design, theatre and contemporary culture and focusses on his creative processes, shifting style and collaborative work with diverse designers in the fields of fashion, sound, graphics, theatre and film.

After Paris, the exhibit moves to the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI Gallery 1), in Melbourne, Australia, from July 16 to November 1, 2015, and then finally the exhibit moves on to the Groninger Museum, Groningen, The Netherlands, from December 15, 2015 to March 15, 2016.

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Last year, Rolling Stone featured an article on the exhibit, listing five things they learned about Bowie after seeing the amazing “David Bowie is” exhibit. Here’s one:

David Bowie Is an Avid Collector of Minutiae

The depth of Bowie’s archive is mind-blowing. From the original acetate advance of The Velvet Underground and Nico, gifted to him by their then-manager Andy Warhol, to a government letter confirming his official name change from David Jones to David Bowie, the exhibit confirms just how much energy Bowie has put into maintaining his legacy. Some of the most incredible offerings on display: a circa-1974 tissue blotted with Bowie’s lipstick, apartment keys for his West Berlin spread, a loin cloth worn by a cast member of 1980’s The Elephant Man and the trusty cocaine spoon kept in his pocket during the Diamond Dogs recording sessions.

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The Ziggy Stardust jumpsuit designed by Freddie Burretti (1972) is reflected in mirrors of an installation at the David Bowie exhibition (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)

More recently, Bowie’s camp revealed that he’d purchased a collection of masks based upon his own face from London-based artist Mark Wardel. Bowie — who employs a dedicated team who track down, locate and purchase art inspired by Bowie’s career — ordered two masks at $400 (£250) each, and upon seeing the product, he bought a whole set of the fake faces.

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Wardel told Britain’s Daily Mirror newspaper, “I had a call before Christmas from Bowie’s agent saying the man himself was interested in buying some of my masks. I wondered how he knew I had them but I was told Bowie employs people to keep a look out for people making images or art work of him. I was told not to worry as Bowie loves the mask and wants to buy them for his archive. I spent days making two of them and sent them off to New York and got a message back saying Bowie loved them and thought they were gorgeous. He now wants to buy the whole set. Because of Bowie’s interest I have now had to take them off the market. I am now making more to send to him and I will have a re-launch of them with an exhibition.”

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According to DavidBowieNews.com, the masks are cast in high grade plaster and meticulously hand painted in oil and acrylic paints, the masks are signed on reverse by the artist and have an attached wire hanger for easy wall mounting. An art piece for the discerning Bowie connoisseur.

Read more here:

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.