Wednesday, May 4, 2011


All the images in this post are from and property of David Bowie.  If there are objections, I will be happy to take them down.

Have I mentioned that I am a big fan of David Bowie?  Well I am.
Not only do I love his music, but he was a vital component in the genesis of my most favorite musical acts (obligatory plug for Duran Duran and U2.)  He's also an accomplished actor, turning in strong performances in films such as The Hunger and The Last Temptation of Christ.  

What I did not know is that he is an artist.  Well, of course he is, you might say.  Just listen to the music.  True, but I'm talking about modern visual art.  He's a painter, a sculptor, photographer, and printmaker.  Seems like he's been doing this since at least the early 90s, so what the heck do I know?  
This really shouldn't come as any surprise to me and it doesn't.  Bowie was always as much about leaving a mark on your pupils as on your eardrums and that is by no means detrimental towards the music.  The artful make-up, the costumes, the performances that were true rock spectacles and not cheap theatrics with flashpots and lasers, all of that is a solid part of his identity.  And then there's the veritable storyline he built around Ziggy Stardust, the Serious Moonlight Tour with the stage designed as a combination of avante garde meets Casablanca and so much more.
I could just keep gushing on and on.  Watch the genius for yourself:

So I visited the site for his art and learned that I actually own a small piece of Bowie art: he painted the cover of his 1995 album, Outside.  Observe...

In the accompanying text on the site, Bowie explains that the Outside painting was actually the fifth in a series of self portraits painted throughout 1995.  Curious, I rooted through his other galleries to see what kinds of weird art awaited...and trust me, "weird" coming from me is a sincere compliment.  I didn't have to go far until I found this gem:

I don't know what it is about his composition that speaks to me.  Sure, this is a rather reflective and existentialist piece, but there is more to it than that.  Just look at the expression on the subject's face.  There is real, raw honesty here.  This guy is not having a good day and isn't going to hide it.  I'm certain there are people who would call this depressing, but it's a real experience.  Artists are called to explore all the realities of existence...and a few "unrealities" as well, eh? (rim shot).  Ahem.  Moving on.

I like art that has strong religious imagery in it.  I think that has something to do with being raised a Catholic as the Church is very much an institution of art, especially those lovely old gothic cathedrals.  The title of the above piece is TV Christ.  Very apt.  A crucifix stylized as a TV antennae, yet different enough that you would need to honestly consider the image for a time in order to make the connection.  And when you make that connection, just can't help but consider the implications.  The role that TV has in the lives of many.  It's where we get much of our information.  As recently as the 19th Century, people got all of their news and information from the pulpit at church.  I am by no means advocating a return to that (believe me), merely commenting on the place of mass media in our society.  I don't take Bowie's statement, if indeed this is what he is trying to say, as especially mordant.  It is merely telling.  Again, I digress.

I'll close out with this portrait of William S. Burroughs.  A fine tribute to his good friend and great author.  One legend reflecting upon another.

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  1. I really like this post. Sensitive and enlightened. Small piece of beauty in this violent world.

  2. This is a awesome post and I learned allot about his actual Art . Amazing on so many levels :)