David Bowie Is at the V&A
“Time may change me, but I can’t trace time.” Well, as it so happens, David, you can! Though not chronologically, the V&A are to curate a thematic retrospective of the extraordinary career of David Bowie, which will be opening next spring – beginning the 23rd March running until the 28th July.
Bowie is a pioneering artist and performer whose career has lasted 50 years, and brought him international acclaim. He has sold over 140million albums, and is a major influence on contemporary artists and designers working across the creative spectrum.
The name of the exhibition itself, David Bowie Is, is open to interpretation. It’s in the present and full of impact, as will be the exhibition itself. It’s a wonder such an exhibition has only just come to fruition; however, this is the first time any museum has been given unprecedented access to the David Bowie Archive. The exhibition will explore the creative processes of Bowie as a musical innovator and cultural icon, tracing his shifting style and constant reinvention.
After much controversy and misinformation, we can confirm that David Bowie Is has been curated solely by the V&A, and it is the V&A’s interpretation of the material that will be presented in the exhibition. This has been agreed with Bowie personally.
David Bowie Is will be a true spectacle. After a sneak peek, we can guarantee this exhibition will not disappoint. After all, the V&A have to impress avid fans who already know Bowie’s art intimately. They aim to inspire the public as Bowie himself has done, and will do so with a vast display of over 300 real objects, writings, recordings and costumes from his archives.
The exhibition will delve into Bowie’s early years and his mighty journey towards musical success. It will show inspired innovations in theatre, art, music, technology and youth culture in Britain in the aftermath of the Second World War. Early photographs, LPs from his musical heroes, and Bowie sketches for stage sets and costumes that were created for his bands The Kon-rads and The King Bees in the 1960s, will be on display. The opening section will conclude with a focus on Bowie’s first major hit Space Oddity (1969) and an introduction of some of Bowie’s fictional characters.
The exhibition will progress to examine Bowie’s creative processes from song writing, recording and producing to designing costumes, stage sets and album artwork. The V&A aim to reveal the scope of his inspirations, which range widely from surrealism to Brechtian theatre.
Also on show will be some of Bowie’s musical instruments, footage and photography. In addition to this, handwritten lyrics and collages inspired by William Burroughs that have never been displayed previously will be made public. David Bowie Is will chronicle his unique approach to creating albums and shows, including those around fictionalised stage personas and narratives.
Most excitingly, on display will be the original multi-coloured suit worn for the legendary performance of Starman on Top of the Pops in July 1972, as well as outfits designed for Bowie’s various stage characters. Together, these aspects highlight Bowie’s transformation and perhaps even his impact on gay liberation.
The final section will concentrate on Bowie as a performer, on stage and in film. An impressive and immersive audio-visual space will present projections of some of Bowie’s most ambitious music videos. The V&A will also display previously unseen footage and storyboards for the proposed musical that would eventually become the Diamond Dogs album and touring show.
The exhibition will conclude with some photography, mainly of performance and fashion, taken by a plethora of great photographers. These professional portraits will be juxtaposed with a collage of visual projections that illustrate Bowie’s incredible creative influence on the entire art spectrum.
Gucci and Sennheiser sponsor David Bowie Is. Sennheiser promise the ultimate sound experience for the audio sections of the exhibition and Gucci announced that they are also proud sponsors of one of their inspirations.
“Oh, look out you rock’n’rollers,” and art-lovers alike, this exhibition will surely be a must see for all of you, and we suspect an extravagant success – it ought to be greatly anticipated.
Martin Roth, the director of the V&A, said: “David Bowie is a true icon, more relevant to popular culture now than ever. His radical innovations across music, theatre, fashion and style still resound today in design and visual culture and he continues to inspire artists and designers throughout the world. We are thrilled to be presenting the first ever exhibition drawn from the David Bowie Archive.”
David Bowie Is is at the V&A Museum from 23rd March 2013 until 25th July 2018. For further information or to book visit the mseum’s website here.