David Bowie Is, V&A, London

In the year of his 66th birthday, David Bowie is back at the centre of the public’s consciousness. To celebrate his birthday on 8 January, Bowie released a surprise single, Where Are We Now?, with the announcement of an album, The Next Day which was released 8 March. To add to this recent flurry of activity, the V&A opens David Bowie Is 23 March. With ticket sales that look to be record breaking before the exhibition even opens, David Bowie Is demonstrates Bowie’s ability to continually inspire and interest the general public. In Aesthetica Issue 51 we speak to gallery curator, Geoffrey Marsh about the work behind David Bowie Is and what it was that drew the V&A to exhibit this show.

David Bowie Is, is the first international retrospective of the extraordinary career of Bowie. With unprecedented access to the David Bowie Archive, the exhibition explores the creative processes of Bowie as a musical innovator and a cultural icon, tracing his ever changing style across five decades. Marsh, along with Victoria Broackes have carefully selected more than 300 objects, including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, fashion, photography, film, music videos, set designs, Bowie’s own instruments and album artwork.

The presentation also uncovers the broad range of collaborations surrounding Bowie, examining his work with artists, and designers in the field of fashion, sound, graphics, theatre, art and film. Available for viewing are Ziggy Stardust bodysuits (1972) designed by Freddie Burretti, photography by Brian Duffy; album sleeve artwork by Guy Peellaert and Edward Bell; visual excerpts from films and live performances including The Man Who Fell to Earth, music videos such as Boys Keep Swinging and set designs created for the Diamond Dogs tour (1974). There will also be some more personal items on display, such as never-before-seen storyboards, handwritten set lists and lyrics as well as some of Bowie’s own sketches, musical scores and diary entries, revealing the evolution of his creative ideas.

David Bowie Is, V&A, 23 March – 11 August, V&A South Kensington, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL.
Aesthetica Feature What Is David Bowie? is available online and in shops now, www.aestheticamagazine.com

1. Concept Visualisation by Fifty Nine Production and Real Studios for David Bowie Is.