Brooklyn Street Art

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“David Bowie Is” in Brooklyn : Unprecedented Access to the Renaissance Artist

Posted on March 1, 2018

“Make sure you wear the headphones!” says beaming Brooklyn Museum Director Anne Pasternak as she greets visitors to the exhibition “David Bowie is…” this week and indeed the audio experience is peerless as you glide from section to section of this 5 decade journey through the creative life of a Renaissance artist of the late 20th century. Curated by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, this final destination of the traveling show feels like he is coming back home to us. Most likely it felt that way for visitors in the other cities as well.

David Bowie Is. Brooklyn Museum. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

From Aladdin Sane to Ziggy Stardust to the Thin White Duke to his Serious Moonlight period, from his supergroup Tin Machine to his “Saturday Night Live” costume fronting Klaus Nomi and Joey Arias to his “Earthling” trench coat and his final album “Black Star” released days before his death two years ago, it is an overwhelming exhibition that unequivocally celebrates the ever-changing influential chameleon without pandering or dipping into sentimentality or awkward acclaim.

David Bowie Is. Brooklyn Museum. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Intersteller to interdisciplinary to intergender, the eternal searcher leaves details of his discovery along the trail for us to follow like so many scattered stars; multiple pages of handwritten lyrics with occasional corrections, sketches of costumes with quirksome commentary and original research, videos of ground breaking performance like his blue eye-shadowed opus “Life on Mars, his own original German Expressionist styled paintings including one of Iggy Pop in Berlin, and hundreds of costumes like the patterned bodysuit by Kansai Yamamoto and the The Blue Clown, or Pierrot by costume designer Natasha Korniloff for his “Ashes to Ashes” video and the cover of Scary Monsters.

David Bowie Is. Brooklyn Museum. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A New Yorker for the last couple of decades of his life, we were accustomed to regular sightings of him on the street or stage and news of his latest forays so seeing this level of personal detail almost invasive, as if spying on your neighbor. But at David Bowie is… the access feels unprecedented and no matter how much we see and hear and learn about the many interests and talents of David Bowie, there are invariably further questions about this performer who created barrier breaking characters and inhabited them as voracious avatars of his own discovery and ours.

David Bowie Is. Brooklyn Museum. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The Periodic Table of David Bowie, a clip from “David Bowie is”

CREDIT: Sukita/The David Bowie Archive/used with permission of Brooklyn Museum

David Bowie Is. Brooklyn Museum. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Coinciding with the Brooklyn Museum exhibit Parlophone is issuing the following three limited edition David Bowie discs:
Welcome To The Blackout (Live London ’78), a 3 x LP unreleased live set recorded live during the ISOLAR II tour at Earls Court, London on the 30th June and 1st July 1978 by Tony Visconti, a Brooklynite who produced Bowie on 14 of his albums, Let’s Dance (Full-length) a 12” single featuring full length version of the demo and live version and Bowie Now, a White vinyl LP issue of US promo only compilation with new interior artwork.

David Bowie Is. Brooklyn Museum. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

David Bowie Is. Brooklyn Museum. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The exhibition David Bowie Is… at the Brooklyn Museum is currently on view and open to the general public. Click HERE for information on schedules and tickets.

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