When David Bowie unexpectedly passed away on Jan. 10, 2016, the world lost more than a mere rock star. He was a visionary whose restless creative spirit ingested and expressed itself through a number of disciplines beyond music and encompassed film, literature, theater, fashion, art, photography and science fiction.
David Bowie Is, the exemplary international exhibit that’s been on tour since it debuted at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum back in 2013, and is making its last stop at the Brooklyn Museum through July 15, perfectly reflects this. Visitors get to walk through wearing headphones attached to a device that plays songs and Bowie interview snippets that are coordinated to go with whatever part of the exhibit the attendee may be walking through.
Approximately 500 objects are featured and include roughly 60 photographs, 60 performance costumes, 35 drawings by Bowie, 85 handwritten lyric sheets and some 51 videos consisting of music videos, television clips, filmed roles and tour footage.
The Brooklyn presentation adds an additional 100 objects and places emphasis on his work and life in America. This leg of the tour features the film backdrop from the Sound+Vision tour, LINE, a drawing collaboration with Laurie Anderson, additional costumes from the Ziggy Stardust era, filmed performances, script and clapboard from The Man Who Fell to Earth and drawings from Bowie for his last album Blackstar.
In addition, this exhibit includes an installation of art created for him by his fans, going back to the early 1970s, a focus on the recording of the Young Americans album in Philadelphia and New York, his performance on Broadway in The Elephant Man and vanguard performances on Saturday Night Live.
If anything, the late London native was a breathing conduit whose influence was guided by the vast amount of other artists who had a profound effect on him. Among the dizzying array of names represented here are Anton Corbijn, Mick Rock, Helmut Newton, Issey Miyake, Thierry Mugler, Giorgio Armani, Andy Warhol, Gus Van Sant, Jim Henson, Julien Temple, Don Cornelius, Tony Visconti, Richard Avedon, Elvis Presley, Willie Brown, The Beatles, Little Richard, D.H. Lawrence and The Velvet Underground.
As the exhibit indicates, responses to Bowie’s passing by authorities ranging from “…the British prime minister and the President of the United States to the German government and the Vatican indicated Bowie’s influence and impact to which he has permeated popular culture.” David Bowie Is reflects this a thousandfold.
David Bowie Is will be on exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Pkwy. Brooklyn through July 15. For more information, visit www.brooklynmuseum.org or call 718-638-5000.