While it is no secret that the chameoleon popstar was a great admirer of contemporary art, and indeed an artist in his own right, the upcoming exhibition and auction of his collection reveals a number of insights and surprises:
“The nature of the works that Bowie purchased make for a fascinating insight into his aesthetic inspirations — his collection is heavy on 20th century British art, including works by Damien Hirst, Frank Auerbach, Harold Gilman, Sir Stanley Spencer, Peter Lanyon, Patrick Caulfield, Henry Moore, and Graham Sutherland. There’s also an eclectic variety of other work, from a piece by Jean-Michel Basquiat through designer furniture to the very fancy 1950s record player pictured above, which was created by Italian designers Pier Giacomo and Achille Castiglioni.”
20th century art has always been a formative source of inspiration for David Bowie’s music and visual identity. The cover for his Berlin album “Heroes” makes reference to the angular postures of Die Brücke portraiture; he went so far as to portray American pop artist Andy Warhol in the 1996 film, Basquiat. Bowie’s creative appropriation of modern art cannot be understated: at times, it can be hard to see where one ends and the other begins. I’m reminded of those lines in ‘Andy Warhol’, from Bowie’s 1971 record Hunky Dory: ‘Andy Warhol looks a scream / Hang him on my wall / Andy Warhol, Silver Screen / Can’t tell them apart at all’.