While a small selection of highlights from David Bowie’s personal art collection was unveiled this summer, now for the first time, the full scope of “Bowie/Collector” is revealed. With the release of the online catalogue today, hundreds more works can now be discovered, including a ‘spin’ painting that Bowie created in collaboration with Damien Hirst, an altarpiece by Renaissance master Tintoretto, Like David Bowie, Leon Kossoff.
Although Bowie always loaned generously to museum exhibitions, the catalogue for “Bowie/Collector” reveals his avid passion for collecting and his deep intellectual engagement with the works in his collection. Ranging from post-war British avant-garde painting centred at St Ives, to German Expressionism and works created in the aftermath of the first democratic elections in South Africa, Bowie’s art collection is as eclectic and thought-provoking as his music.
The full exhibition of over 350 works will be open to the public in London 1–10 November. This will include three days of talks and events (4–6 November) with speakers exploring Bowie’s passion for collecting and his influence on fashion, art and design.
Prior to this, the final touring exhibition of selected highlights will be held in Hong Kong 12–15 October (10am–6pm Wednesday–Friday; 11am–5pm Saturday).
Ettore Sottsass and the Memphis Group
The works produced by the irreverent design collective Memphis Milano, led by Ettore Sottsass, could not have found a more receptive and tuned-in audience than David Bowie. This is design with no limits, no boundaries. When you look at a piece of Memphis design, you see Bowie: their unconventionality, the kaleidoscope of forms and patterns; the vibrant contrasting colours that really shouldn’t work but really do. They are as unique and exciting as the music and style of the man who collected them. Pieces such as this were the era of ‘Let’s Dance’ whose album cover (and those of its associated singles) scream Memphis chic. Bowie’s collection spans everything sofas and bookcases to teapots, other ceramics and bold, vibrant vases and other glass.
Intended to work as room divider, general storage and a wine rack, the ‘Casablanca’ was exhibited in the first collection of Memphis furniture in 1981. Flamboyant in pattern and shape, the use of the plastic laminate Formica is a reference to everyday ‘wipe-clean’ interiors of American diners and kitchenettes.
Named after an ancient Indian emperor, this lamp design references traditional candle sticks, and like his ‘Casablanca’ cabinet, has individually coloured parts extending from a central element.
Some of Sottsass’s first experiments with design dating from the 1960s used the traditional materials of ceramic and glass. His love of experimentation can be seen in
‘Aldebaran’ Fruit Bowl which takes a culturally resonant Italian material and uses it in a playful and unexpected way.
Asymmetric in design and clashing in colour, the shapes of L.A. designer Peter Shire’s ‘Big Sur’ seem to be suspended in motion.
The playful stereo cabinet is a definitive piece of 1960’s Italian design, with examples in the permanent collections of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York and the V&A in London. It was designed as a kind of ‘musical pet’ – as well as being completely detachable, the speakers can be hooked on top or on the side like ears and the control dials form a face. This cabinet was modified to allow Bowie to digitise rare vinyls
34-35 New Bond St, London W1A 2AA, United Kingdom
+44 (0)20-7293 5077